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Police Complaints Board Issues Report on D.C. Police Parking and Towing Vehicles Policy

Friday, March 16, 2018
Report highlights inconsistencies within the policy

WASHINGTON, DC – The District of Columbia Police Complaints Board (PCB), the governing body of the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), recently issued a report to Mayor Muriel Bowser, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Peter Newsham addressing concerns regarding the Department’s policy on parking and towing vehicles.

Over the past year, OPC has received several complaints from community members alleging that MPD officers have not properly handled their vehicles during traffic stops or accidents.  This includes parking or towing vehicles in a manner that is inconsistent with the Department’s policy on this matter.

OPC reviewed the complaints and noticed that MPD has parked, moved, or towed community members’ vehicles based on insufficient or contradictory department guidance.

To that end, the PCB recommends the following to help facilitate better police-community relations with the public and increase community trust:

  • MPD should update, amend, and reissue General Order 303.03, clarifying guidance and making it easier for officers to understand what is expected of them in a given situation related to the need to move a vehicle.
     
  • MPD should establish a mechanism to ensure supervisory review of the process and documentation when vehicles are moved or towed, in addition to systematic auditing to identify lapses in procedures.
     
  • MPD should update and deliver training to officers (both recruits and experienced officers) on this updated General Order, with an emphasis on the proper way to park or tow a vehicle to avoid theft, damage, or the inability of the owner to locate the vehicle.  
     
  • MPD should ensure that District Directives do not conflict with Department-wide directives for moving or towing vehicles

To view the full report, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov/page/policy-recommendations.