WASHINGTON – The ACLU of the District of Columbia today called for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to create an open and inclusive process for the selection of the next chief of the Metropolitan Police Department and recommends a nationwide search for the candidate.

The following can be attributed to Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia:

“Mayor Bowser has an unprecedented opportunity to back up her stated commitment to public safety for all District residents by creating an open and inclusive process in the search for the next police chief. District residents deserve a process that is above all transparent and prioritizes the communities most harmed by intracommunity violence, overpolicing, and police misconduct.

“Our next chief must understand that decentering police—removing the law enforcement response to behaviors that are better addressed by a public health or community intervention—is critical to making our communities safer and stronger.

“D.C’s next police chief must tackle the District’s most urgent problems with an approach unhindered by MPD’s failed practices and culture. Practices such as jumpouts on young Black men that cause trauma and incite fear and distrust of police. Practices that lead to a deep racial disparity in stops of Black residents in even the whitest neighborhoods. A blue-wall-of-silence culture that led one MPD whistleblower to sue the department for retaliation after she reported supervisors for directing officers to make unlawful arrests of Black men. A culture that trains officers to search individuals one way, but unofficially tells them later to go “up in the crotch.”

“MPD’s toxic culture infects all levels within the department. Therefore the next chief should be selected after a nationwide search instead of simply promoting from within MPD’s own ranks, which has been the practice of previous D.C. mayors, including Mayor Bowser, for decades. (The sole exception was the appointment of Charles Ramsey in 1998.)

“We strongly support the D.C. Police Reform Commission’s recommendation that the voices of community members most impacted by police are given special consideration. We urge the D.C. Council to follow with a confirmation process that further heeds community input.

“The chief of police has the power of life and death in their hands. We urge Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council to take a thoughtful, considered approach to the selection of the person to fill this critical role that will shape D.C.’s future for years to come.