Defund MPD in FY23
DC is one of the most heavily policed cities in the world, but the police don't keep us safe. We need the DC Council to fund the things that actually keep us safe--healthcare, housing, education, good union jobs, and so much more--by cutting funding for the MPD. That's why we need to Defund the MPD to Refund our Communities!
Here is the sample letter we have prepared. Please feel free to add your own perspective to this letter, or submit it as is!
To the Judiciary Committee:
I am writing to submit comments for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)'s budget oversight hearing and to express my support for the Defund MPD Coalition’s vision for public safety.
The MPD brings violence into our communities, through police brutality, discrimination, and murder. Sometimes there is a glimmer of accountability for MPD abuses, such as the recent federal indictments of MPD Officer Terence Sutton for second-degree murder and MPD Lieutenant Andrew Zabacsky for federal charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice.1
Yet more often, there is no accountability, such as for the MPD officers in its special gun recovery unit who a 2020 review found used force exclusively against the District’s Black residents over the analysis period.2
Off the clock, MPD officers also too often use their power to hurt us. MPD’s own investigators have concluded that at least 64 current MPD officers have committed criminal misconduct, including domestic violence, indecent exposure, sexual solicitation, and stalking. Yet when MPD sought to terminate 24 of those officers, a panel led by MPD Chief Robert Contee blocked the firing of 21 of them. And for the other 40 officers the District did not try to fire, they engaged in drunk or reckless driving, recklessly handling a firearm, property damage, stalking, and theft.3
Instead of the MPD, I want to see the District invest in real, non-carceral alternatives to policing. That means developing and fully funding non-police emergency services and violence interruption services that are accountable to our communities and respond to our needs. That means continuing to divert traffic enforcement from the MPD to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). That means replacing police in our schools with trauma-informed supportive services. And that means getting to the root causes of harm by investing in housing, good jobs, and healthcare.
The District should also pass permanent legislation to protect our communities from the police. The District should ban the purchase of military-style, crowd-control, and chemical weapons, ban surveillance tools and tactics, end stop and frisk, and end jump outs. The District should prohibit the MPD from spending more than authorized by Council, such as through budget reprogramming or just unbudgeted overtime. And the District should limit police interactions by decriminalizing poverty, drugs, homelessness, sex work, and street vending.
Please put residents’ needs first, by prioritizing real and meaningful public safety over more armed cops. Take more steps to end systemic racism in D.C. Defund the police to refund our communities.
1: Source: U.S. D.O.J., Press Release, Two Officers Indicted on Charges in Death of 20-Year-Old Karon Hylton-Brown (Sept. 24, 2021), https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/two-officers-indicted-charges-death-20-year-old-karon-hylton-brown.
2: Source: National Police Foundation, Metropolitan Police Department Narcotics and Specialized Investigations Division: A Limited Assessment of Data and Compliance from August 1, 2019 - January 31, 2020 (Sept. 23, 2020), https://policecomplaints.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/office%20of%20police%20complaints/publication/attachments/National%20Police%20Foundation%20MPD%20NSID%20Report%20September%202020%20Final.pdf.
3: Source: Dhruv Mehrota, Jenny Fathright, & Martin Austermuhle, D.C. Police Tried To Fire 24 Current Officers For ‘Criminal Offenses.’ A Powerful Panel Blocked Nearly Every One, Documents Show, DCIst (Dec. 18, 2021), https://dcist.com/story/21/12/18/dc-police-panel-blocked-mpd-firings/.