Find out where Ward 2 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)(3) 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?

Brooke Pinto: Yes. The First Amendment right to assembly and free speech is extremely important for all in America; however, it is especially important in the nation's capital which is home to hundreds of First Amendment activities each year. Ward 2 is proud to be home to the majority of major First Amendment assemblies in the city. I will continue to champion the rights for individuals to protest and to ensure all can be kept safe during and around a protest by supporting HSEMA, FEMS, and MPD in their efforts to ensure protests can carry forward safety.

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.”?

Brooke Pinto: Yes. I appreciate and support WMATA and their need to maintain a safe, orderly, reliable, and affordable transportation system. I think that it is worth exploring whether they should change their policy on advertisements on the system to continue opportunities for free speech and needed revenue for the system.

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

Brooke Pinto: No. I believe in the right of District residents to have full autonomy and representation in their government. There are some issues about which I have disagreed in the past; however, I stand with my Council colleagues in the final decisions the legislature makes and never think it is appropriate for Congress to step in and insert their will on the residents of the District of Columbia on local matters.

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?

Brooke Pinto: Yes. I continue to advocate for full statehood for the people of DC and our needed local autonomy. However, it is important for District residents that I work with the current structures we do have to best represent them. Accordingly, I work closely with partners in the federal government, including our prosecutors, courts, and supervision agencies on a weekly basis to make sure that District residents' voices and perspectives are being heard and that we can improve service delivery and outcomes.

What is your definition of safety?

Brooke Pinto: I believe safety is when people feel a sense of security and calmness as they go about their lives and that all District residents deserve to be safe. Safety comes from many different avenues and we must continue to strive as a government to promote economic stability, prevent crime before it happens, hold perpetrators of crime accountable, support rehabilitation, and increase our government services and coordination.

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

Brooke Pinto: Yes. The real-time crime center will help law enforcement partners communicate expeditiously and with more accuracy to help prevent and respond to crime. This model is based upon what is done in New York City.

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?

Brooke Pinto: No. The DC Council plays an important oversight function of DC agencies. I do not think it necessary nor appropriate to give the legislative branch a day to day operations function of government surveillance. These tools should be utilized by trained professionals in an appropriate and scope limited way to protect the public, maintain privacy rights, and be subject to oversight by the Council.

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

Brooke Pinto: Yes. I support many of the recommendations by the DC Police Reform Commission. For example, my bill, Secure DC, followed the Police Reform Commission's recommendations to allow review of body worn camera footage before an officer rights a report unless there is a serious use of force or deadly force. This is aligned with the PERF report and is a best practice among other states. I also agree with many of the recommendations around transparency and accountability in the Department when there is wrongdoing as well as a need for investment in our people to improve education and opportunities in our city.

If elected, which recommendations would you prioritize implementing? 

Brooke Pinto: I think there is more to be done to civilianize certain functions. I think this is particularly important with social services functions and domestic violence cases.

Do you support police-free schools?

Brooke Pinto: No. I support School Resource Officers in our schools. I believe our School Resource Officers should be well trained on how to work with kids and that they need to be on site to prevent and respond if there is an incident.

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

Brooke Pinto: I think we must invest much more in mental health supports for our kids in every school and conflict management and resolution. Young people today are filled with ideas, passion, and sometimes emotion. We need to be offering them the tools and avenues to explore those feelings and ideas productively and safely.

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

Brooke Pinto: No. I think solitary confinement should be used very rarely and have worked with the DC Jail on this issue. They have had major reductions in its use over the last several years. I also think we need to ensure people can have adequate access to food and the outdoors when possible. Unfortunately, without solitary confinement, there would be no possible way to elevate a location to provide safety. This is particularly important when someone is experiencing a crisis, has threatened to attempted to take their own life, or is in a physical altercation with their own roommate.

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?

Brooke Pinto: No. We have that Corrections Information Council which does a great job at providing oversight and accountability to the DC Jail. I believe we should continue fighting alongside the CIC to ensure they have full and appropriate access to the DC Jail to report out so that we can continue fighting for improved conditions there. I do not think this would require a wholly new oversight body in addition to the one we currently have.

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

Brooke Pinto: I support MPD's policy to have an adverse action hearing to determine if an officer should be terminated from the force when they have violated laws or policies. This is particularly important in the event that there is a public interaction or violation. I also support the decisions made by the Chief about firing and do not believe those should be able to be collectively bargained away.

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

Brooke Pinto: Yes. There are many instances where a mental health expert is the most appropriate person to respond to an incident. The Council began and funded this pilot program several years ago and it is housed in OUC working with DBH and MPD. We have learned a lot about this program and know that while it is appropriate for many calls, there are some incidents where mental health providers have not felt safe going out to a scene without traditional law enforcement. There are now more co-response teams in these circumstances. We will continue working on this important issue.

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

Brooke Pinto: Yes. I do support more locations for DC residents to receive care, get sober, and get directed to supports. I do not think we should have a 24 hour location for drug use which is sometimes used in this definition of a harm reduction center.

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

Brooke Pinto: Yes. I support our CRT teams which are facing major staffing shortages and need much more support to continue their excellent work.