WASHINGTON — After George Floyd's death, there was swift police reform across the country. In D.C., that change came in the form of an emergency police reform bill, passed unanimously last summer.
Now, more police reform could be on the way in the district.
The initial bill brought changes to the department that focused on interactions with the public and more transparency.
Nearly one year after George Floyd's death, a jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin guilty of his murder. At-large D.C. Councilmember Robert White Jr. said he is happy with that verdict but doesn't want the efforts to stop there.
“I don’t want this verdict to let us off the hook because this would have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. But we have to understand that the pain and strain are still there, just waiting for the next issue like this if we don’t address these underlying issues," said White.
A police reform commission was also formed last year. That commission made its recommendations in early April, calling for big changes.
D.C. Police Reform Commission published a 259-page report, sharing a long list of recommendations for new legislation in police reform, in support of their goal to “reduce the footprint of policing” in the District.
“Peace is not made from the barrel of a gun. Peace is not made from the roaring sirens. Peace is not made through more police presence in our communities,” D.C. Police Reform Commission Member Delonte Gholston said. “That peace actually comes from the community.”
The dozens of reforms released are "a bit edgy, but necessary," said Chairman Phil Mendelson after the report came out.
Councilmember White said he supports the report but does believe it needs to be studied more before any changes are made.
“It is fair and balanced. It says 'no we should not drastically reduce the size of the department,' but we should, in time, replace some of the things we cover with police with more appropriate agencies," said White.
Some of the proposed agencies would respond to incidents like public intoxication and mental health crisis, issues that don't always pose a public safety threat.
The report also specifically addresses the concern of over-policing in D.C. schools. Commissioners are recommending the removal of police and immigration enforcement in addition to prohibiting arrests on school grounds.
Meanwhile, the D.C. Police Union strongly opposes these recommendations, calling it a 'mission to defund the police," in a statement.
Other lawmakers who also support the report, have other bills in the works as well to continue the conversation on police reform in the district.
The public will have a chance to weigh in before any of these recommendations are actually put in place.
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