The D.C. Council approved emergency legislation earlier in the month to limit use of force by police, release body camera footage more quickly and limit the role of the police union in the police disciplinary process. The council voted to prohibit D.C. police from using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets or stun grenades to disperse a crowd. Former ANC Commissioner and community activist Kathy Henderson said defunding the police could cause a spike in violent crime. "We rely on the police to protect us," Henderson said. The police union urged the council to approve MPD's budget and said that "the idea that our department is systemically racist in a way that manifests itself in brutality and civil rights violations is preposterous. The MPD has been at the forefront of police reform for 20 years. Problems that exist in other cities do not exist here."
After days of heated debate, the D.C. Council passed a budget slashing $15 million from the Metropolitan Police Department despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s objections. The budget adds millions of dollars for social service programs. The budget does not add funds Bowser requested for the popular MPD Police Cadet Corps program. Some of the funds that were cut will fund violence interruptors who work in communities with at-risk youth. In downtown D.C. on Tuesday, opponents of the police budget cuts warned the move could drive crime higher, reduce staffing and hit the District’s budget hard. “Everything is being rushed through the city council on an emergency basis, which doesn’t allow for public hearings. It doesn’t allow for government testimony. It doesn’t allow for expert witnesses and it certainly doesn’t allow the robust discussion that’s required,” said Gregg Pemberton of the D.C. Police Union.
Chairman Pemberton appears on Fox & Friends in the Morning of Fox News
The District’s police force has come under major scrutiny during the last few months. In response to the local protests after George Floyd’s death, the D.C. Council passed emergency police reform legislation that, among other things, makes neck restraints a felony and bans using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse peaceful crowds. The Council also cut $9.6 million from the mayor’s proposed police budget increase. Many officers do not agree with these steps towards police reform. According to an internal survey from the D.C. Police Union, 71% of officers are considering leaving the Metropolitan Police Department because of the police reform bill, and 39% are considering leaving law enforcement altogether. How does D.C.’s police union respond to the emergency legislation? And what does police reform look like to MPD officers? We sit down with the chairman of D.C.’s Police Union, Greggory Pemberton, to talk about police reform and changes that need to be made.
A survey conducted this week by the D.C. Police Union shows 71 percent of respondents said they were thinking of leaving the force. The eye opening response coming as officers grappled with the idea of changing the very way they police the city.