By Hamzat Sani, Special to the AFRO
The Police Foundation recently released an independent review of the Metropolitan Police Department’s interactions with demonstrators during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration of Donald Trump that highlights several MPD blunders.
The review was commissioned by the Police Complaints Board – the governing body of the District’s Office of Police Complaints – which released its own report in February 2017 that highlighted the same issues with MPD’s interactions with protestors. The independent review was commissioned by OPC, with approval from the D.C. Council, to further investigate findings that MPD did not always perform in accordance with their standard operating procedures during a weekend full of protests.
Both the review and report point to an MPD that was under-prepared, overwhelmed and overworked during inaugural protests. The review includes testimony from officers, investigators and independent witnesses noting instances where demonstrators were pepper sprayed without warning, arrested en masse without cause and hit with stings balls in contravention of approved protocol.
The review also documents instances where officers worked shifts of 17 hours without breaks, were only given a video to prepare them for protests and did not have equipment necessary to provide adequate crowd control.
“The overwhelming majority of MPD officers adhered to department policies and procedures and performed in a professional manner,” said OPC Executive Director Michael Tobin. However Tobin also noted, “I think it would do a lot for community trust if MPD was simply to come out and admit that mistakes were made and we are going to do better next time.”
MPD did not provide comment regarding the release of the review to the AFRO. The full report can be found on the OPC’s website here.