We are in receipt of the proposed resolution by the city council that demands increased scrutiny of all MPD policies and procedures as they relate to recently reported uses of force by officers of police departments outside of the District of Columbia. It is our position that this resolution accomplishes no relevant goal. In fact, it is a redundant measure given the checks and balances currently in place for the legislative and executive to monitor our Department. Regrettably, this resolution appears highly political and implies a mistrust of our current policies and procedures, despite the fact that the facts have shown that our members, through those policies and procedures, conduct themselves in a professional and tempered manner within the bounds of what is morally and legally correct.
The DC Police Union leadership and its members recognize and understand the conversation occurring between communities and police departments and how they interact, and your Union fully supports that. There is room for individuals from all races and backgrounds to contribute to the debate of how we can make our system of justice more equitable to members of every community. It is, however, a disservice to our members to suddenly become suspicious of decades of community partnership and, when necessary, judicious use of force due to the actions of three non-MPD officers who have yet to be proven guilty in a court of law for any crime. Some of the examples which the council highlighted in their resolution are highly contentious and have no bearing on the conduct of our members.
All of these actions by law enforcement have been investigated and scrutinized in the courts. Some of these investigations have resulted in the officers being legally cleared of wrong-doing, while other investigations have resulted in officers being indicted or convicted of crime. The investigations into the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are ongoing, and are being conducted by local, state and federal authorities. These investigations have yet to reveal any evidence of wrongdoing by the involved officers who are entitled to due process under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, just like any other citizen of our nation. To scrutinize our members as a mere response to these videos before an investigation is completed is a knee-jerk reaction, a rush to judgment, and may only result in further distrust of our members – a trust that our members build upon daily with their work and sacrifice.
As with other jurisdictions, there are systems in place to ensure the safety of the communities we serve, and when any law enforcement officer acts outside the bounds of what is legal they are held accountable. As we sit here, our members are out in the communities they serve having positive interactions, building trust, and enforcing the law, all while knowing full well that at any moment they may be faced with a situation where force is necessary to defend their own lives or the life of a citizen. MPD continues to make great strides in increasing accountability and expanding our options for less-lethal tactics, as evidenced by the deployment of the body worn camera program, the expansion of deescalation training at annual professional development training, and the forthcoming acquisition and deployment of conducted electrical defensive devices. Our members have shown time and time again that they exhibit tempered restraint with appropriate uses of force, and have found ways to deescalate potentially dangerous situations, thus not having to exert any use of force. The council already has information available to them for the analysis and critique of the actions taken by our members. Again, this resolution appears to serve no other purpose than to capitalize on a political opportunity that has resulted from the unfortunate deaths of Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile.
Our Department is facing a manpower crisis of unprecedented proportions. We have officers leaving in droves to seek employment with other agencies for a host of reasons. Chief among them, our members do not feel supported by their own city council. This resolution furthers this divide and will push more members out the door. This in turn will create a very dangerous situation for our city, its residents and visitors. It is our position that the council’s resolution will result in further division between our members and their city.
As always, be safe and watch each others’ backs.
DC Police Union
Posted July 14 2016 at 2:49 PM by Matthew N. Mahl | Permanent Link