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National Police Foundation Releases Report on D.C. Police Narcotics and Specialized Investigations Division

Monday, September 28, 2020
Report conducts independent review of NSID data

(Washington, DC) – The National Police Foundation (NPF) today released its independent review of the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Narcotics and Specialized Investigations Division (NSID). This review was conducted as a result of “D.C. Law 23-16. Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Act of 2019.”

The Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Act of 2019 required the Police Complaints Board, governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), to conduct “an independent review of the activities of MPD’s Narcotics and Specialized Investigations Division, and any of its subdivisions (NSID), from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2019.” Due to challenges MPD experienced with providing consistent data during this time frame, the D.C. Council updated the time frame, including activities from August 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020.

OPC selected NPF to conduct the review of NSID, including NSID operations, management, and command structure; stops and searches conducted by NSID officers; activity and complaints involving NSID-assigned personnel; adequacy of discipline imposed by MPD on NSID officers as a result of a sustained allegation of misconduct; and provide recommendations on improving NSID’s policing strategies, providing effective oversight over NSID officers, and improving community-police relations.

Through data collection, research, interviews and other review methods regarding stops and searches,  NPF found that there was a total of 2,871 reported stops involving NSID-assigned personnel during August 1, 2019 to January 31, 2020 and a reported total of 3,680 persons who were stopped during those interactions. Out of the 3,680 persons stopped, 1,699 persons (46.2%), were reported searched or had a protective pat down conducted with probable cause as the most common justification for the search.

In addition, the NPF examined the reported stops, arrests, and use of force data. The Foundation found that Black community members represented the highest number of reported stops by NSID at 87.7 percent (3,226).

Although NPF was limited in the time frame of data provided from MPD, there are several recommendations NPF believes will improve MPD’s transparency and accountability as it relates to stops, arrests, uses of force, and complaints filed by the public, including:

  • NSID and MPD leadership should continue to identify opportunities to ensure that there is proper oversight—both internal and external—for the tactics and overall role of NSID and NSID-assigned personnel.
     
  • NSID leadership, and MPD leadership, should identify opportunities to build partnerships with other DC government agencies—including the DC Department of Behavioral Health—and community organizations to attempt to divert non-violent persons from criminal justice involvement to addressing their needs.
     
  • NSID, and MPD as a whole, should update General Order (GO) 304.10 “Operation and Management of Criminal Investigations” to require documentation of all field contacts.
     
  • NSID, and MPD as a whole, should update GO-PER-110.11 "Uniform, Equipment, and Appearance Standards" and GO-308.13 "Casual Clothes Units" to require each casual clothes unit to be easily identifiable as MPD officers.
     
  • NSID, and MPD as a whole, should simplify integration of required forms with MPD records management systems, so that collected data can be easily consolidated and exported and provided to the DC Office of Police Complaints (OPC) and third party contractors hired by the OPC to conduct sanctioned audits and assessments, and persons and groups who complete Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
     
  • NSID, and MPD as a whole, should collect required and other important data—particularly demographics of community members stopped, ticketed, searched or patted down, and arrested; the reason(s) for each of those; and, specific type(s) of narcotics and firearms seized—electronically.
     
  • NSID, and MPD as a whole, should prioritize planned research about potential bias in stops and the complex relationship between stops, arrests, use of force, demographics, and socioeconomic factors.
     
  • NSID leadership should consider having a more-permanent set of personnel and reducing the number of members it details from other MPD roles and responsibilities.

To view the NPF’s full report, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.