Howard University Business School in Northwest D.C. was where complaints were presented to District council members Oct. 8. In the school’s auditorium, many citizens vented their views regarding negative incidents with police while others listened to their stories.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6).
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, organized the public oversight hearing to hear complaints entitled “The Metropolitan Police Department: Stop and Contact Policies and Procedures.”
“Before the Council broke for recess, I committed to an oversight hearing to review Metropolitan Police Department practices, specifically the methods law enforcement uses to stop and detain people in D.C.,”Wells said in a statement. “All residents should be able to expect and trust that law enforcement will protect and treat us all equally, safely, and fairly.”
Hearing topics included stop and frisk, jump outs, traffic stops, and use of SWAT-like teams.
Councilmembers Anita Bonds, David Grosso (At-Large members) and Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward5) shared the panel with Wells. The NAACP, the Urban League, the American Civil Liberties Union and District citizens, gave testimonies.
Kymone Freeman, a black male, demanded council members have a legitimate citizens’ review board to oversee complaints regarding police conduct. require a significant number of police live in the communities they watch, and have any officer who shoots an unarmed person indicted, arrested, and convicted.
Freeman said he was tired of “dead bodies over and over again,” then candidly shared his experiences with the police.
Jamal Mohammad of We Act Radio said social media displayed what has been happening for decades. “We have different realities from the world (speaking of Black men in particular) with different consequences,” Mohammad said.
The topic of the 1974 Stop and Frisk Law was raised but no indication was given as to what it was based on or if it was a District law for police.
“The 1974 laws do not work today in modern society,” Bonds said. She read data from the police department and concluded it may be different for citizens. Bonds later remarked when the hearing was over, “Some of the things my son has said to me, I was horrified.” She was open to suggestions on how to improve the relationship between citizens and the police.
“We need more transparency,” McDuffie added. “People may be used to what’s going on and it becomes a way of life.” He encouraged citizens to file a complaint and gave a negative experience he encountered with police.
Another hearing on the police department will convene 11:30 am. Oct. 27 at the John A. Wilson Building with Police Chief Cathy Lanier.