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City Council Members Introduce Police Complaint Transparency Bill

Friday, February 27, 2009

(Washington, DC) District of Columbia Council members Mary M. Cheh, Phil Mendelson, and Muriel Bowser introduced a bill earlier this month that would expand the authority of the Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), to include monitoring and publicly reporting on citizen complaints that are filed with and investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and D.C. Housing Authority Police Department (DCHAPD).

The bill, entitled the “Police Monitoring Enhancement Amendment Act of 2009,” was introduced on February 3, 2009.  The proposed law incorporates policy recommendations issued by PCB in its September 2008 report to the mayor, city council, and the MPD and DCHAPD chiefs of police.  The legislation provides for extending the Board’s current authority to include review and analysis of the number, types and dispositions of citizen complaints investigated or otherwise resolved by MPD and DCHAPD.

If enacted, the Board’s authority will include monitoring MPD and DCHAPD notices of proposed disciplinary actions resulting from sustained allegations, as well as discipline eventually administered by the two police departments. 

“Data collected from MPD, DCHAPD and OPC will give the public a complete and clearer picture of the nature of police misconduct in the District,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director.  “It will also enhance transparency and lead to more targeted proposals for police reform.”

District law allows an individual to file a police misconduct complaint directly with MPD or DCHAPD that will be investigated by the relevant department, or to file a complaint with OPC that will be independently investigated by OPC.  Each year, OPC issues an annual report detailing the volume, types, and outcomes of citizen complaints that are filed with and resolved by OPC.  Currently, MPD and DCHAPD do not provide the public with similar information.

To view the bill or a copy of the PCB’s full report and recommendations, click the links below: