How Often Does Excessive Force Happen?
Reporting use of force has been a challenge all over the United States. MPD, specifically, does not do an adequate job of reporting use of force. This leads to a lack of accountability and additional pressure on community members to fight for justice.
Founders of DC Protests have experienced MPD’s use of force and Fourth Amendment violations first hand. One Founder was assaulted by the police while unarmed and not involved in any crime. Another Founder was held for almost 36 hours with no reading of her Miranda Rights. Additionally, MPD officers on bicycles continue to use intimidation tactics during protests which are protected under the First Amendment. On 8/15/2020, there were almost double the amount of MPD officers as there were protesters. They did not try to ask if we wanted help, instead they recklessly rode through our protest and stalked us while we marched. Some MPD officers were not even wearing masks, further putting protesters at risk of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This is just a small example of the damage MPD causes individuals and communities every day.
The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) is an independent District of Columbia Government agency that provides a forum for the review and “resolution” of police misconduct complaints filed against the Metropolitan Police Department. Part of the OPC is the Police Complaints Board which is composed of five members, one of whom must be a member of MPD, while the other four must have no current affiliation with any law enforcement agency. All Board members must be residents of the District of Columbia, and they serve staggered three-year terms without compensation. The Mayor nominates members to the Board, who must then be confirmed by the Council. Members of the Board can be found here: https://policecomplaints.dc.gov/page/opc-police-complaints-board
The Board is charged with reviewing the executive director’s determinations regarding the dismissal of complaints, making recommendations to the Mayor, the Council, and MPD, where appropriate, regarding changes in policy that impact police misconduct, as well as monitoring and evaluating MPD’s handling of protests and demonstrations held in the District of Columbia.
According to the DC Police Complaints Board’s report in 2018 they found the following patterns:
Reported use of force incidents increased 20 percent in 2018; reported use of force incidents have increased 83 percent since 2015
The number of officers who reported using force increased by 18 percent in 2018; more than one-third of MPD officers reported using force in 2018
113 Officers reported using force five times or more in 2018; six officers reported using force 10 times or more
Subjects reportedly assaulted officers in 22 percent of reported use of force incidents in 2018
14 percent of subjects were reportedly armed with some type of weapon in use of force incidents in 2018; 7 percent were reportedly armed with a firearm
Take-downs and control holds were the most common types of force used in 2018, accounting for 75 percent of all uses of force
Subjects in 15 percent of incidents were reportedly under the influence of alcohol or drugs or reportedly exhibited signs of mental illness
The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Districts reported the most uses of force in 2018, each accounting for 19 to 20 percent of uses of force
The five Police Service Areas with the most reported uses of force were all in the Fifth and Sixth Districts
32 percent of 2018 MPD provided use of force reports were incomplete, inaccurate, or otherwise deficient
90 percent of all reported uses of force involved black community members
The below Twitter video from Graeme Sloan, an independent photojournalist, shows MPD in action using unprovoked excessive force that left several peaceful protesters hospitalized. This kind of police aggression is something Black and Brown individuals fear daily. While DC continues to demand justice and an end to the violence, MPD continues to respond with more violence.