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Office of Police Complaints Issues Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Report highlights expanded authority, body-worn cameras, and First Amendment assembly monitoring

(Washington, DC)  – The District of Columbia Office of Police Complaints (OPC) and its governing body the Police Complaints Board (PCB), today issued its Annual Report for Fiscal Year 2017. The report provides information on OPC’s mission and goals achieved, expanded oversight authority, the impact of body-worn cameras on police-community relations, and First Amendment assembly monitoring.

In FY17, OPC received 773 complaints reflecting a 77% increase from FY16.  This is the highest number of complaints filed in the agency’s history.  Additionally, the number of individuals contacting the agency increased by 29% - from 1,448 in FY16 to 1,872 in FY17.

As a result of the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act of 2015 (NEAR Act), OPC’s oversight authority was expanded to allow for auditing of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the D.C. Housing Authority Police Department (DCHAPD) files regarding officer complaints and uses of force.  In addition, the NEAR Act:

  • Designated OPC as the primary entity responsible for processing all complaints against MPD officers;
  • Authorized OPC to utilize two new disposition types – policy training and rapid resolution; and
  • Expanded the time to file a complaint with OPC from 45 days to 90 days.

Further, the impact of MPD’s body-worn camera (BWC) program has greatly enhanced the agency’s ability to conduct an investigation.  OPC investigators have direct and immediate access to BWC footage and found relevant BWC video in 63% of cases investigated.  Additionally, OPC found that cases with BWC footage were less likely to result in complainants withdrawing their case or failing to cooperate with investigations.  The agency also began tracking officers’ use of BWCs and found that officers failed to comply with department guidelines for BWC use in 34% of cases OPC investigated.

Beyond investigating and resolving police misconduct complaints, OPC monitored and evaluated MPD’s handling of and response to several First Amendment assemblies this fiscal year.  The PCB released reports on two assemblies where OPC monitors noted concerns with MPD actions:  Inauguration Day 2017 and the Women’s March.

The agency was also active with its outreach efforts, conducting or participating in more than 45 community outreach events.  This is the highest number for OPC in a single fiscal year.  The agency further expanded its outreach to the District’s Latino and immigrant population, added two new organizations to its Community Partnership Program, and continued its outreach to students throughout the District.

“The PCB and OPC’s annual report provides the public with access to important information about the agency’s work,” said Michael G. Tobin, OPC’s executive director.  “And through our efforts, we strive to improve community trust in the police department.”

To view a copy of OPC’s Fiscal Year 2017 Annual Report, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.