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Tue Jun 9, 2020, 04:25 PM

D.C. Council passes police reform legislation, prompted by protests


Amid historic protests drawing attention to police misconduct, the D.C. Council passed sweeping reform measures Tuesday that prohibit hiring officers with a history of serious misconduct on other police forces and require the city to swiftly make public the names of officers who use force on citizens.

The legislation passed unanimously, with a veto-proof majority, despite a stern letter that Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) sent the Council during its meeting, in which she urged lawmakers to slow down and hold public hearings before passing the legislation.

“I am especially concerned,” Bowser wrote, that the proposals “amend laws related to issues like Body-worn cameras, laws which received significant consideration and public input when they were crafted.... Allowing for community input and vetting by our residents can only serve to refine and strengthen changes to policing in the District.”

The District joins lawmakers across the country, from the Minneapolis City Council to Democrats in the U.S. Congress, in closely examining policing, prompted by two weeks of nationwide grief and fury sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Even as D.C. lawmakers passed a bevy of changes, however, they also acknowledged that the bill does not address some of the core demands of demonstrators to overhaul policing.

Some of the most liberal members of the council urged their colleagues not to let the momentum of the moment dissipate. In the coming weeks, the council is set to debate the city budget with an opportunity to redirect money from traditional policing to other city agencies.

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