The chairman of D.C.’s police union, Matthew Mahl, will work to unseat 10 city council members who signed a resolution calling for police reform, he said in an emotional statement.
The platform, written by Council member David Grosso (I-At Large) as a “Sense of the Council to Implement Police Reform” decree, asked for the implementation of dialogue between District communities and the police to reduce police-involved killings. As of July 20, police said the District has had five police-involved shootings. According to the Washington Post, four Black people died in D.C. from police-involved shootings in 2015.
“We stand in support of the families and loved ones of those persons who have lost their lives to police shootings. We acknowledge the anger, fear, frustration, and grief felt by so many District of Columbia residents and Americans across this country but hold firm that these feelings should be expressed peacefully…” Grosso wrote. “While the District of Columbia has not experienced fatal shootings by the police on the same scale as other cities in the country, it is critical that we fully examine current policies and practices employed by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to ensure that all residents of the District of Columbia are treated equally and with dignity under the law.”
Councilmembers Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), Elissa Silverman (I-At-large), LaRuby May (D-Ward 8), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7), Grosso, Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), and Vincent Orange (D-At-large), each of whom signed off on the resolution, are the targets of Mahl’s call for replacement.
“It’s a ceremonial resolution that is just saying that the Council of the District of Columbia really cares, is paying attention to the issues around police brutality and the country, and in fact, what happens here as well, and that there’s something needs to be done about it,” Grosso told NBC News 4 in response to Mahl’s complaint. “I’m sorry if it upset the police officers independently on this issue, but it’s time to have this tough conversation and really understand what is the bias we understand. Why are more Black residents of our city, more Black residents of our country being impacted by violent acts?”
Councilmembers, identified in the call for replacement, did not respond to AFRO inquiries before deadline. At issue for Mahl, was a list of Blacks who had died in police custody in other jurisdictions over the course of the last few years – an inclusion which gave the resolution the tone of an attack. “It is our position that this resolution accomplishes no relevant goal,” Mahl said in a written statement. “In fact, it is a redundant measure given the checks and balances currently in place for the legislative and executive to monitor our Department.”
“Regrettably, this resolution appears highly political and implies a mistrust of our current policies and procedures, despite the fact that the facts have shown that our members, through those policies and procedures, conduct themselves in a professional and tempered manner within the bounds of what is morally and legally correct,” he continued.
Mahl, who is White, also told News Channel 8 that the inclusion of those who had died in police custody suggested that despite many of the officers being acquitted of any wrongdoing, the police somehow got away with misconduct. “To scrutinize our members as a mere response to these videos before an investigation is completed is a knee-jerk reaction, a rush to judgment, and may only result in further distrust of our members – a trust that our members build upon daily with their work and sacrifice,” Mahl said.
Speaking on behalf of the police union, Mahl said that as increased numbers of District officers resign and move to other jurisdictions, in part because of lack of Council support, it is necessary to rally for new leadership. “This resolution furthers this divide and will push more members out the door. This in turn will create a very dangerous situation for our city, its residents, and visitors,” Mahl’s announcement read. “It is our position that the council’s resolution will result in further division between our members and their city.”
Ward 7 resident Walter Bay said the infighting between the police and the Council reinforces a belief among many Washingtonians that the city faces a leadership crisis caused by an inability among agencies to work together for the good of the city. “Instead of sitting down behind closed doors, these two bodies – which we need – are having public debates about how they feel and what they want with no regard for each other. Publicly placing MPD in the same light as officers in jurisdiction where racial unrest has taken place is unfair,” Bay said. “By the same token, trying to get members of the Council removed is childish. Real leaders understand that a city that wants statehood and is racked by a disrespect for authority, needs to show publicly unity and diplomacy within their own ranks.”