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Police Complaints Board Recommends Next Steps to Address Biased Policing

Thursday, May 17, 2007

(Washington, DC) The Police Complaints Board (PCB), which oversees the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), today submitted a report and set of recommendations to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Cathy L. Lanier proposing that the District of Columbia and MPD take immediate steps to combat the perception and practice of biased policing.

PCB recommends that MPD reestablish the Biased Policing Task Force, which was created as part of a 2001 initiative to address biased policing concerns in the city.  MPD disbanded the task force in December 2006 after the Department also ordered an end to the collection of traffic and pedestrian stop data earlier that month.

MPD’s actions, taken without the input of the task force, coincided with the Department’s release of a study it commissioned, entitled “Data Collection and Benchmarking of the Biased Policing Project:  Final Report for the Metropolitan Police Department in the District of Columbia.”  The study, authored by Dr. John C. Lamberth, offered a mixed assessment of whether racial and ethnic profiling by the police occurs in Washington, DC. 

A consultant hired by OPC, Dr. Lorie Fridell, produced a report commenting on the MPD study. 

In addition to calling for the reestablishment of the Biased Policing Task Force, PCB proposes that MPD, with the input of the task force, review the Department’s policies and practices in the areas of hiring, training, supervision, and outreach in order to combat the practice or perception of biased policing.  PCB also urges that the task force be charged with assessing MPD’s anti-biased policing policy and that consideration be given to further data collection and analysis.

Biased policing is a national issue.  According to a recent US Department of Justice study, in 2002 and 2005, African American and Latino drivers in the United States were more likely than whites to be searched during police stops.

MPD recently indicated that a “2007 Biased Policing Task Force” meeting would take place on May 23, 2007.  Although MPD has not announced details on how the new task force will operate, PCB is encouraged by this development.

“MPD is to be praised for taking steps to reinstitute the Biased Policing Task Force,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director.  “We trust that MPD will move aggressively to act on the proposals of PCB and the task force to address these critical issues.”

PCB’s full report and recommendations are available online:

For additional information regarding biased policing in Washington, DC, and nationally, please click on the links below:

Report written by Dr. John C. Lambreth

Report written by Dr. Lorie Fridell

  • Contacts between Police and the Public, 2005

Report produced by US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics 
For additional information or questions regarding the report and recommendation, contact OPC Public Affairs Specialist, Melanie L. Deggins, at (202) 727-3838.