The D.C. Council officially comes back in session on October 1st, with the first legislative meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 5th. Among other priority issues this fall, Councilmembers are expected to consider and introduce several important police reform measures aligned with recommendations made by the Police Reform Commission in its report, “Decentering Police to Improve Public Safety.” ACLU-DC testimony on the PRC recommendations is available here. A few of the bills that have already been introduced and which we plan to follow closely include:
- The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2021 (Bill 24-320), which limits several harmful police practices and increases the transparency of police actions. Among other things, the bill prohibits the use of neck restraints, places restrictions on police use-of-force, limits consent searches, bans the use of chemical weapons at first amendment rallies, expands the authority of the Office of Police Complaints, and increases public access to body-worn camera footage. A temporary version of this legislation was passed by the Council last year in response to the mass movement for racial justice and police accountability. The legislation is expected to have a hearing this fall.
- The Strengthening Oversight and Accountability of Police Amendment Act of 2021 (Bill24-356) would, among other things, create a new office of the Deputy Auditor for Public Safety, expand the role of the Office of Police Complaints and require MPD to create a publicly accessible database of police officer disciplinary records. The scheduled hearing date for this bill on October 21, 2021.
- The School Police Incident Oversight and Accountability Amendment Act of 2021 (B24-254) is intended to improve data collection and reporting of police actions that occur on school grounds. This bill is also scheduled for a hearing on October 21, 2021.
- The Law Enforcement Vehicular Pursuit Reform Act of 2021 (Bill 24-213), which prohibits police officers from engaging in dangerous vehicular pursuits of individuals operating a motor vehicle. Since 2016 alone, police vehicular chases have resulted in the deaths of three D.C. residents. The ACLU-DC testified in strong support of this legislation alongside recommendations to add penalties to keep officers accountable to the law. ACLU-DC testimony on this bill can be found here. The next legislative step for this bill is markup in the Judiciary Committee, which has yet to be scheduled.
You can find additional information about all of the above bills on the Council’s legislative information management (LIMS) site, and check the Council’s calendar for the full hearing and legislative meeting schedule this fall.