Find out where D.C. Council candidates stand on the critical issues affecting justice and freedom in the District – criminal justice reform, our First Amendment rights, D.C. statehood, and freedom from discrimination.

Note: The American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. We do not support or oppose candidates for elected office. 

D.C. is considered the protest capital of the United States of America. Would you protect the First Amendment rights of protestors who live and visit the District?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. To protect First Amendment rights of protesters in DC, I would ensure a fair permitting processes, uphold freedom of speech, and collaborate with law enforcement to maintain a safe environment while respecting civil liberties. Encouraging open communication and addressing concerns can also foster a balance between public safety and free expression.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Residents of DC should have the same rights as any other person to express their views, whether in support or opposition, to issues they want to highlight or protest. I do think better management of these demonstrations and/or protests is needed but because we are the Nation's Capital should not prevent local residents to have their voices and concerns. Protecting the right to this would mean supporting effort to rescind any punitive and excessively restrictive measures and to be a proponent of rights and opportunities for residents to properly and affirmatively express their concerns publicly.

Robert White: Yes. The right to protest is an important right in a functioning democracy. As a Councilmember, I have intervened when police have violated people’s right to protest. I am also proud that attorney and first-amendment authority, Ann Wilcox, has supported a number of my election campaigns; and I would encourage DC government staff to rely on authorities like Ann to ensure that their training and management practices support our First Amendment obligations. In addition, just as there are "Street Law" and "Know Your Rights" programs for community members, I support similar programs tailored for prospective demonstrators and protestors.

Do you support changing Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) policy prohibiting advertising “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying public opinions.”?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I support changing the transit authority's policy because it aligns with my principles of free speech and the exchange of diverse ideas. It fosters an environment where varying opinions can be expressed, encouraging a robust public discourse. This approach reflects a commitment to values of inclusivity and the open exchange of ideas, even on contentious issues.

Darryl Moch: Yes. WMATA is funded and supported by public funds and provides services to a great majority of commuting residents of DC and elsewhere; as such the public transit system is one of the best ways to get information for the public good into view for those frequenting the services. I do think there needs to be "TRUTH IN ADVERTISING" where the information is presented as one of the options and maybe the preferred option from the presenter but should not be worded in a way as to scare or intimidate viewers/readers to adopt the perspective indiscriminately.

Robert White: Yes.

If a bill you opposed were to be passed by the D.C. Council, would you advocate for Congress to overturn it?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes.  I would push for Congressional intervention to overturn a bill I opposed at the local level if I believe the legislation poses a significant threat to constitutional rights or if I see it as conflicting with federal laws. Seeking federal involvement is a way to address a broader issue that goes beyond the local jurisdiction.

Darryl Moch: No. As a strict supporter of DC Statehood and independence from congressional interference; I would not ask or lobby congress to interfere with laws in DC. If there is a challenge to any law it should come via the court or via continued council review and action. The best way to get good laws passed would be to honestly engage the community to gauge interest assess the will of the people for whom we are hired to support.

Robert White: No. Every DC leader should stand together in supporting our local autonomy. Mayor Bowser dealt a blow to DC’s home rule that we will feel for years when she broke ranks on home rule to side with Congressional Republicans to overturn the Criminal Code re-write. We can debate policy issues within DC. But after bills pass, we have to come together and stay united around home rule. When DC leaders don’t stay united around home rule, Congressional Republicans will take advantage of the opportunity to impede on home rule… like waging recall elections against Council members.

Because of our unique status and the impacts of the Home Rule and Revitalization Acts that give the federal government control over many different parts of our criminal legal system, including the prosecutors, courts, and supervision agencies, members of the D.C. Council do not have legal or budgetary authority over those entities. Would you use your role on the Council to ensure that these entities serve our residents fairly and effectively?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I will advocate for policies that promote transparency, community engagement, and equity. I will support initiatives such as community policing, alternatives to incarceration, and investing in social services to address underlying issues contributing to crime. I will collaborate with community organizations and stakeholders to help in developing solutions that prioritize fairness and effectiveness in the criminal justice system.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Absolutely, this is the reason for wanting to serve the community in this capacity. For far too long our elected officials have served their own interests or corporate interests have and above the needs and interest of everyday people across our area. In my role as At-Larce council member it would be critical that proper oversight is provided so that the decisions and rules we pass are in the best interest of the people who live, work, and recreate in DC over those of corporations or even my limited perspective. The goal again is to be informed of what the people want and to advocate for them to those ends.

Robert White: Yes. Every Council Member has constituent services, oversight and legislative responsibilities that federal agencies impact. Hence, we all should maintain open communications with our federal counterparts; and we should influence them to act in the District's best interest. In meeting these responsibilities, I utilize public and private pressure as well as support from DC's Delegate to the Congress and from our shadow representative and senators.

What is your definition of safety?

Rodney Red Grant: Safety, to me, entails freedom from harm, danger, or risk, encompassing physical, emotional, and environmental well-being.

Darryl Moch: Safety is the ability of people and systems to operate in their natural environments without fear or apprehension. Safety comes in a variety of ways for people and the systems we operate, in this modern world safety involves personal safety, communal safety, and organizational safety where each person or entity (made up of groups of people) are able to execute activities, alone or in a group, in ways that are free from personal, physical, financial/economic, political, legal, medical, psychological/emotional/spiritual harm or an expectation harm or impending doom.

Robert White: In the context of the criminal justice system, I think of "safety" in terms of harm reduction. All DC agencies, not just law enforcement, should prioritize reducing the harm to DC residents and visitors. That means a public safety system that works. It also means better public education, jobs, mental health resources, and things like my ‘Safer Today, Safer Tomorrow’ series of bills that would expand vocational education for all students, mentors for young people across the city, and early truancy intervention. It also means things like the free Masters in Social Work bill that I passed and funded to allow DC residents to get MSW degree\s for free so that they can be part of our solution.

Do you support the implementation of the 24/7 real-time crime center?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. It's essential to balance the benefits with privacy concerns and ensure that the system is transparent, accountable, and respects individual rights. I support the implementation of a 24/7 real-time crime center as it provides a crucial framework for swift responses to incidents and proactive monitoring of emerging trends. This technological advancement empowers law enforcement to address potential issues before they escalate, ensuring a more effective use of personnel and resources. The center's ability to analyze patterns and trends is instrumental in developing targeted crime prevention strategies, ultimately deterring criminal activity. Additionally, the introduction of real-time evidence collection enhances the investigative process, bolstering the overall efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement efforts.

Darryl Moch: Yes. In addition to other type of supports and services, the real-time crime center can be effectively used to interrupt emerging criminal trends and activity and alert residents and officials to direct resources to certain areas and to address concerns that arise from the crime activity, A real-time crime center. can also be used to manage public perception, address rising fears, and manage propaganda that can alleviate safety concerns and report out real-time responses to real-time crime that will assure residents of safety as well as alert those who perpetuate these crimes that apprehension and eliminating the crime activity is a priority for DC.

Robert White: No.  Although I support coordination and communication among law enforcement agencies, I have concerns about the implementation of the center that the current Mayor has proposed. Collaboration among law enforcement agencies must not shield the Metropolitan Police Department from accountability. In other words, MPD officers should not be allowed to ask other law enforcement officers to take actions not permitted at MPD. Furthermore, I am concerned that explicit and structural racism will be a part of the proposed center's operations.

Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department and other District agencies have sole authority over law enforcement surveillance in the District. Do you think the D.C. Council should oversee this government surveillance?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. Deciding whether the council or police department should oversee surveillance in the District involves weighing factors such as accountability, transparency, and the protection of civil liberties. Striking a balance between effective law enforcement and safeguarding individual rights is crucial. Collaboration between the council and police department, can help ensure responsible oversight, addressing concerns related to privacy and potential misuse of surveillance technologies.

Darryl Moch: Yes. DC Council should provide an additional level of oversight and review to guide the enactment of laws and policies as well as budgetary considerations to impact crime prevention, services to victims, and enforcement efforts to ensure that equitable and fair distribution of resources, community engagement and input, and supportive services are in place. MPD and DC agencies must have accountability and council is the best place to provide that additional level of oversight in a checks and balance with the Mayor who provides direct management over these entities.

Robert White: Yes. The DC Council's oversight responsibilities must extend to all aspects of the DC government. Where concerns about security or privacy arise, the Council and the relevant DC agency should find ways to address those concerns, while still allowing the Council to meet its oversight obligations.

Do you support the recommendations of the D.C. Police Reform Commission?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. It is important to support police reform measures that prioritize civil liberties, accountability, and transparency.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Surprisingly this report is both well researched and well documented. The key areas highlighted reflect much of what many in the DC community have been asking for or demanding for more than a decade, in this current iteration and for many generations before in different ways. The report is very community and person-centered; it reflects awareness of trauma and trauma informed care. as well as a need to ensure law enforcement are part of the community and that the community is centered in the work of crime issues; particularly prevention, reentry, and support services along the continuum. Changing how we perceive the community coupled with the expectations and perceptions of law enforcement are important covariates in addressing the issues DC faces with police-community-government engagement and relations to improve public safety and trust on all sides.

Robert White: Yes. Sadly, nearly three years have passed since the Commission issued its report. While further Council action may be needed to implement some recommendations, I am troubled by the Mayor's failure to implement recommendations, including steps that must be taken to change the culture and guiding principles of the Metropolitan Police Department. We all will be safer when DC implements the Commission recommendations. I will continue to work to get the Commission’s recommendations implemented piece by piece.

If elected, which recommendations would you prioritize implementing? 

Rodney Red Grant: "1. Meeting crisis with specialized skill and compassion: I will advocate for making community-based behavioral healthcare professionals the default first responders to 911 calls involving individuals in crisis. This approach ensures a more empathetic and effective response, addressing the root causes of the situation. 2. Back to normal, re-establishing police free schools: To create safer and more inclusive learning environments, I am committed to reestablishing police-free schools. This involves dismantling the school policing infrastructure and replacing it with a holistic public health approach to school safety and crisis intervention. This approach is relational, racially just, restorative, and trauma-informed, fostering a nurturing environment for students. 3. Holding our police accountable: Accountability is crucial in maintaining public trust and promoting a system that values fairness and justice. We can reshape public safety in our community, emphasizing compassion, prevention, and accountability. Together, we can build a safer, more equitable future for District residents."

Darryl Moch: Retraining on behavioral health responses and crisis de-escalation for police; implementation of behavioral health and violence interrupters as first responders; and establishment of oversight process and body.

Robert White: In this Council term, I have focused on DC's 911 operations. How can we be safe and how can the government hold individuals accountable, if 911 calls go unanswered? My legislation will enhance 911 operations. Once we are assured that calls will get answered, we must focus on the nature of the government's response. Hence, I will prioritize making sure 911 responses by DC government employees who are equipped with appropriate skills and resources. We should be much further along with our co-response program than we are.

Do you support police-free schools?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I firmly support the concept of police-free schools as a crucial step towards fostering safe, inclusive, and supportive learning environments. Redirecting resources away from traditional policing models allows us to embrace alternative approaches rooted in restorative justice, trauma-informed practices, and community engagement. By dismantling the school policing infrastructure, we create an opportunity to prioritize the well-being of our students, addressing issues at their roots and nurturing an environment where every student feels valued and understood. This shift not only aligns with principles of equity and justice but also ensures that our educational institutions become spaces where students can learn, grow, and thrive without the presence of law enforcement.

Darryl Moch: Yes. There has to be a better way to manage school and any particular crisis than having SROs or police in the schools. As the Police Reform Commission report (and other research) indicates the presence of police does little to calm a crisis but actually may exacerbate conditions. The presence of police can be triggering and traumatic for youth and families. As such we need to develop processes for violence interrupters, youth geared services and other safety measures that can reduce and prevent crime and also deter criminal activity at or near the school settings. If we change the way police engage in the wider community then some of the activity that finds its way into the schools may be disrupted before that occurs and also new methods in the schools, including resource support, other personnel, and training for school-based staff may improve conditions.

Robert White: Yes. For guidance about keeping students safe, I look to the students themselves and to their advocates (for example, the Black Swan Academy). When young people tell us that police in schools make them feel less safe, we must listen. Of course, police must be ready to respond to emergencies like a school shooting. However, I am confident that day-in and day-out harm reduction in our schools need not and should not require a routine police presence.

What non-law enforcement supports would you invest in to improve school safety? 

Rodney Red Grant: "As council member I would invest in the following: -Fund mental health professionals such as counselors, therapists, and psychologists. -Establish mental health awareness campaigns and destigmatize seeking help. - Implement programs that enhance students' social and emotional skills (SEL). - Invest in training staff and students in restorative justice practices. - Establish restorative circles and interventions to address conflicts. - Provide resources for conflict resolution training for students and staff. -Promote open communication and problem-solving skills. -Allocate resources for anti-bullying campaigns and awareness programs. -Support peer mentoring programs to create a supportive culture. -Develop partnerships with local community organizations and resources. -Involve parents and community members in school safety initiatives. -Invest in the development and regular practice of crisis response plans. -Ensure staff is trained to handle various emergencies and support students. -Implement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. -Recognize and reinforce positive actions to create a culture of respect. -Provide ongoing training for staff on issues related to school safety and student well-being. -Equip teachers and administrators with tools to create a safe and inclusive environment."

Darryl Moch: "Violence Interrupters, Enhanced conflict resolution and mediation services for youth and adults, Enhanced training for school- based employees on managing a crisis, Advanced mental health and developmental/intellectual disability training for better management issues that may come from people with any particular condition or challenge, Community-informed solutions (in the end we need to ask the people what they want and need and what they will support). "

Robert White: Did not answer.

Do you support ending the use of solitary confinement in the D.C. Jail?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I support ending the use of solitary confinement in the DC jail. Long term isolation can have a negative impact on mental health and it can constitute cruel and unusual punishment, violating constitutional rights.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Solitary confinement is torture and in appropriate. Whether an incarcerated person needs a cooling off period and some temporary isolation the use of excessive solitary confinement is cruel and unacceptable. Solitary confinement should not be weaponized to threaten or coerce inmates, however with strict guidelines and heavy penalties for offending staff/management, the use of colling off time or spaces and other ways to manage people of they are not functioning in the wellbeing of the environment or themselves can be available but under no circumstances should someone be in solitary confinement or any isolation longer than time to get their behavior and emotions under control so they can act rationally and within expected norms on the community.

Robert White: Yes. Someday, society will see prolonged periods of solitary confinement as unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. However, we need not wait for that day to recognize the harm that solitary can do to an individual. The DC Department of Corrections can and must find ways of keeping prisoners from harming themselves or others — while still allowing those individuals to interact with others.

Do you support empowering a new independent oversight body with unrestricted access to the D.C. Jail to regularly and publicly report on the conditions and treatment of residents at D.C. Department of Corrections facilities?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I wholeheartedly support the establishment of an independent oversight body with unrestricted access to DC Jail, committed to regularly and publicly reporting on the conditions and treatment of residents. This initiative is rooted in the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability, acting as a crucial deterrent against abusive treatment. By reporting on conditions and identifying areas in need of improvement, it ensures that the DC Department of Corrections complies with legal and ethical standards. This commitment not only builds public trust and confidence but also provides advocacy groups and organizations with a platform to push for policy changes and improvements based on the oversight body's findings. Crucially, this effort is aligned with the protection of human rights, demonstrating our collective commitment to treating residents with respect and meeting their basic needs.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Reform. Reform requires systematic, strategic, and innovative planning and also requires accountability and integrity. This is what is needed if we are to revamp our system into one that is rehabilitative versus merely restrictive and punitive. The goal of incarceration should be to remove the offender from the general community, provide opportunity to reflect and realign with expected civil behaviors, rehabilitate (gain skills necessary) to be successful upon reentry in the community. An oversight body would be able to access this system and process and require improvements aside from protecting the "system" or demonizing the inhabitants.

Robert White: Yes. I laud the Corrections Information Council for their good work in monitoring conditions of confinement in the DC Department of Corrections. However, the CIC lacks the authority and resources needed for unrestricted and comprehensive monitoring. I visit the DC jail as a Councilmember, but I and other elected officials can’t be there frequently enough to monitor operations. Hence, I would either expand CIC authority/resources or entrust oversight to a newly created entity.

What types of measures would you implement to hold MPD accountable when they disregard or violate Department policies or District laws?  

Rodney Red Grant: "Establishing robust independent oversight, mandating the use of body cameras and dash cams to enhance transparency, and implementing clear use-of-force policies. Community policing/engagement initiatives will be a cornerstone, fostering positive interactions and building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Protections will be reinforced to empower officers to report misconduct without fear of retaliation. Ongoing training programs will be a priority, ensuring that officers are equipped with the necessary skills, including crisis intervention training. The creation of civilian review boards, alongside data collection and reporting mechanisms, will provide an external and impartial evaluation of complaints, tracking officer conduct and identifying patterns of misconduct. Fair and impartial investigations, guided by clear disciplinary guidelines, will be conducted consistently. Consequences for noncompliance will be significant, emphasizing accountability and a commitment to upholding the highest standards. Transparency will be a guiding principle, with public reporting on investigation outcomes and disciplinary actions."

Darryl Moch: People who violate the law should be addressed in the same way that any violation occurs. Police I do think have a thankless job and as such should be offered corrective options when an occurrence or evidence of a pattern emerges; however they would not be immune from the law either. They are held accountable as any resident would be to any laws that were violated. However, with proper supports a errant police officer can be realigned with the expected values and continue employ, except in the case of egregious violations. In either case following the laws and the retributions for those infractions must be applied equally. Justice for one Justice for All.

Robert White: Metropolitan Police Department officers are held accountable by internal disciplinary processes and by the Office of Police Complaints. However, even as a DC Council member, I lack information about the disposition of individual disciplinary cases that occur internally. We need changes in DC policies and laws to give the Council (and where appropriate the public) adequate insights into how police officers are held accountable. One such measure is more public information for serious disciplinary matters, which is an amendment I supported in the Secure DC bill that the Council recently passed.

Do you believe that mental health specialists, rather than police, should serve as the default first responders for mental health emergencies?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. "Mental health specialists have special training to handle these situations and continue to support the individual beyond the initial encounter. They connect people to ongoing support services to address the real issues. Unlike the police, having mental health specialists around lowers the chances of the situation getting worse. This creates trust in the community, making it more likely for people to seek help when they need it. Choosing mental health specialists means focusing on helping, not punishing. It's a more caring and effective way to deal with mental health problems, providing support that leads to better outcomes for everyone involved. By shifting the default first responders for mental health emergencies to mental health specialists, society can promote a more compassionate, effective, and tailored response to individuals experiencing mental health challenges. This also allows police officers to respond faster to criminal activity or serious violent crimes."

Darryl Moch: Yes. Police should assist when requested for safety reasons; however mental health specialists are often called to a scene or hospital to address a concern; they should be first because they are equipped with the skills to manage and assist a person experiencing a mental health crisis. We have to change how we view people and what constitutes a crisis, and what kind of crisis is happening. You would not ask a phlebotomist to be a first responder to a shipping accident, you would ask a Captain or ships personnel; likewise why would a law enforcement be called first to a mental health crisis. Even if there is a law infraction the mental health concern is priority and when that is resolved the safety in the community is restored.

Robert White: Yes. As the Police Reform Commission so well explained in 2021, behavioral health professionals are best prepared to respond to mental health emergencies. At times, I recognize, a co-response with an MPD officer is needed. However, asking police to respond alone to mental health emergencies invites disaster.

Do you support a 24-hour harm reduction center in D.C.?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I wholeheartedly support the establishment of 24-hour harm reduction centers as crucial pillars in our community. These centers offer invaluable benefits, including immediate access to overdose prevention measures, reducing the transmission of diseases through clean equipment, and providing a safer environment for individuals facing substance use challenges. The around-the-clock availability ensures that individuals can access non-judgmental support, crisis intervention, and harm reduction education whenever they need it, contributing to community safety and well-being. Moreover, these centers play a vital role in connecting individuals with treatment services, fostering positive outcomes for those on a path toward recovery. By supporting 24-hour harm reduction centers, we prioritize public health, compassion, and pragmatic solutions, ultimately creating a safer and more supportive environment for everyone in our community.

Darryl Moch: Yes. DC has adopted a Harm-reduction model in addressing issues in DC including the Opioid crisis, as such, and as DC continues to be an international destination, and as businesses and venues stay open longer and for more days it would be a natural and logical response to the issues in DC and of our residents to have a 24-hour harm reduction center (or centers in each quadrant).

Robert White: Yes. If individuals are to use illegal substances, it is not only in their interest but also in the public interest for them to do so in a facility the affords clean needles, opportunities for first-aid, and importantly, substance abuse help. Furthermore, a properly resourced harm reduction center can be a more effective and less costly alternative to a hospital emergency room or the DC Central Detention Facility.

Do you support increasing the number of Community Response Team (CRT) members and creating more appropriate crisis response locations?

Rodney Red Grant: Yes. I strongly support the expansion of community response teams and the creation of more appropriate crisis response locations in our community. Increasing the number of response team members ensures a more comprehensive and timely approach to addressing various crises with the expertise and empathy needed. Additionally, establishing more suitable crisis response locations is essential to provide environments that are conducive to de-escalation, support, and understanding. This approach not only enhances public safety but also reflects a commitment to addressing crises with the right resources and spaces, promoting the overall well-being of our community members.

Darryl Moch: Yes. Given the density of DC we would require numbers of centers disbursed throughout based on the density of the communities and the needs of those communities. This would mean an increase in both team members and team locations to meet the need and to effectively manage and resolve any crisis as it occurs, wherever it occurs.

Robert White: Yes. "Through the lens of harm reduction, we can see that Community Response Team members are an excellent resource in addressing mental health and substance abuse emergencies. Increasing their numbers would allow more effective deployment throughout DC. Furthermore, providing facilities in which they can operate pairs well with meeting DC’s need for harm reduction centers. "