Councilmember McDuffie’s Use of Force Provision Passed as Part of Emergency Justice and Police Reform Legislation

McDuffie’s Use of Force Provision Passed as Part of Emergency Justice and Police Reform Legislation

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Council of the District of Columbia unanimously passed the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 [B23-0774], which includes use of force reforms drafted by Councilmember McDuffie. The goal of the measure is to reduce and effectively abolish instances of unlawful use of force by defining specific factors that must be considered when determining whether an exercise of force or deadly force is reasonable.

Additional measures included in the legislation passed today include:

  • Prohibits the use of neck restraints (“chokeholds”) by law enforcement.
  • Prohibits Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officers from reviewing their body-worn camera recordings before documenting their recollections in a report, reversing a last-minute amendment to Councilmember McDuffie’s Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Act, the “NEAR Act.”
  • Strengthens the Office of Police Complaints.
  • Restricts the ability of District law enforcement agencies to acquire or request certain military equipment.

Previously, Councilmember McDuffie authored the District’s landmark criminal justice reform legislation, the NEAR Act, which brings a public health approach to crime prevention in DC, addressing root causes and getting residents real services, not simply more law enforcement.

“I support what we’re doing today and voting on this bill. It builds on work that I led on this Council when we passed the NEAR act, including body-worn camera laws and measures that increase police transparency and accountability.

While these reforms are an important step, police reform is only one step.  Part of the work that this Council needs to do is to dismantle the racist systems that exist in this city, that existed long before we started legislating. Systems that are the offspring of centuries of slavery, de jure and de facto segregation, structural racism, and institutional bias that we’ve created and continue to maintain, and that contribute to the existing widespread racial inequity.

I appreciate all the work that went into this legislation, but we must also acknowledge that we have a long way to go.”