In response to the D.C. Council passing the Secure DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024, ACLU-D.C. Policy Counsel Melissa Wasser said today:

“While the amended Secure DC Act provides some limited safeguards, it falls short of keeping us safe from abuse of power. History has taught us that crisis is the precise moment when we must strengthen our rights and liberties, not turn our backs on these fundamental principles.

Several amendments in the bill provide critical relief. The anti-mask provision now protects people who are exercising their first amendment rights. Pretrial detention will not go unchecked. The public will have access to the names and badge numbers of police officers who are accused of engaging in misconduct in adverse action hearings. These are important changes that will protect our safety.

But we continue to have deep concerns about several provisions in this bill. Failed and ineffective ‘drug-free’ zones do little to prevent crime; instead, they open the door for police officers to harass people and violate our rights. The changes to body-worn camera provisions roll back police accountability and spread distrust of police. And collecting DNA before a person has been found guilty violates our privacy and our presumption of innocence. These provisions will not make D.C. safer and will put our rights at risk.

Moving forward, we will be carefully watching every step of how the Secure DC Act is implemented. And the ACLU-D.C. will continue to educate our communities about the rights we have and what to do if those rights have been violated.”