Law For BlackLives-DC criticizes Police Bill, Rally held in opposition
Washington, DC – Law For Black Lives-DC dissected a DC Bill proposing to spend $5 million as the first step in a plan to increase DC Metro Police to 4,200 officers in the coming years. The group of DC-based volunteer attorneys raised policy concerns of the bill proposed by Councilman Vincent Gray (Dem. - Ward 7), in a 12 page analysis.
“The Bill does not meet the legal standard for Emergency Legislation, as the bill does not propose a solution on a short term basis, and no emergency exists as the MPD has more officers per capita than any other reporting jurisdiction in the country,” an excerpt from the introductory passage.
DC MPD staffed 3,789 Officers in 2015, according to a 2015 DC MPD Annual report. Black Lives Matter DC, BYP 100, and Stop Police Terror Project held a protest, branded as #NoNewMPD outside of John A Wilson City Hall Monday night voicing their opposition.
April Goggans, a Core Organizer of Black Lives Matter DC rally says the money for the bill could be put towards other social improvement programs.
“This money could be used to fund the NEAR Act to address intra-community violence,” says Goggans. “Too many police create an illusion of security,” Goggans elaborated reflecting on her ten years of residing in the Anacostia neighborhood.
The Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act passed on June 30, 2016, establishing the Office of Violence Prevention and Health Equity, but has yet to see full-fledge implementation.
Sean Bland, 31, a DC lawyer attended the rally because he wants to see the council invest in communities instead of creating policies to over police them. "We have evidence-based approaches to crime and violence prevention, and we need to fund those approaches now," Bland said regarding the NEAR Act model.
The bill, co-sponsored by Councilman Jack Evans (Dem. – Ward 2 ), will increase salaries to retain officers with estimated cost of more than $63 million through 2021. The initial funding will come from the Commodities Cost Reserves Fund, established by DC Code § 47–368.04(a). Yet, Section (b) sets aside the tax dollars to be used explicitly for “electricity, fuel, water, steam, natural gas, postage, telephone, custodial, security […]” Police retention and recruitment is not mentioned.
The DC MPD starting salary for officers is currently $55,000, which will increase by a total of 20% in four years if the bill passes, and is approved by Mayor Bowser. In contrast, according to New York City Government, the NYPD officer starting salary is a $35,000 plus benefits.
The DC Council will vote on the bill, “Force of 4,200 – Police Officer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017” Tuesday morning.
Law For Black Lives- DC
Black Lives Matter DC
BYP 100 DC
Stop Police Terror Project DC