The D.C. Police Complaints Board recently suggested the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) appoint an “independent consultant” to investigate the actions of District police officers on Inauguration Day. The review raised concerns on how authorities responded to protests.

The board, in a report on Feb. 27, stated D.C. police should begin an independent examination of the incident, as well as review and update the procedures for handling mass demonstrations, due to instances where the use of force and crowd-control devices were questionable. The report was based on accounts of the protests from the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) 11 staff members who monitored the presidential inauguration events.

“OPC monitors did observe police activity that raised concerns . . . MPD officers using force at times on some of the protesters, dispersing OC spray and stingers into the crowd without an order or warning and arresting individuals who were not involved in any rioting or acts of vandalism,” the report concluded.

The report said law enforcement’s response to calming the chaotic demonstrations may have violated department guidelines on handling large demonstrations.

The 2005 SOP Act, updated in 2016 and distributed to D.C. police before the inauguration, requires authorities to give warnings before using “amplification devices” and making arrests in the event of a violent demonstration.

The report said D.C. police didn’t follow these procedures in the area of 12th and L Streets, NW where a limousine was lit on fire and vehicle and storefront windows were smashed by an organized group of anarchists.

There were 230 arrests of adults charged with felony rioting during the anti-Trump protests, police said. The board said some of these arrests were made without probable cause, which is required by the SOP Act.

“If arrests become necessary, they must be based on ‘probable cause of those participating in violations of law,’” the report explained, “those committing the acts of vandalism and violence were dressed primarily in all black, yet many of those held and arrested, were visibly wearing items that identified them as not being associated with these protesters.”

The U.S. attorney’s office has indicted 214 people on felony rioting charges which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000, according to a Bill Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office. He told the AFRO Feb. 27 that there have been no guilty pleas or verdicts in any of these cases.

As of Feb. 28, the court had dismissed 16 cases. The reasons why the charges were dropped are unclear.

“In response to the riots, the men and women of MPD made reasonable decisions during extremely volatile circumstances,” Hugh Carew, a spokesperson for MPD, told the AFRO on Feb. 28. Even so, Carew said the MPD would take the OPC board’s recommendations into account.

The board’s review of law enforcement’s overall interaction with the public during the inauguration was not all bad.  “MPD’s general interaction with the public appeared cordial, helpful, and respectful. MPD officers appeared alert and attentive, yet unimposing and non-confrontational,” the report detailed.