To date, the DC Council has implemented none of the 90 recommendations provided by its own Police Reform Commission in 2021. The “Safe and Free DC” agenda of 2022 focuses on 18 legislative priorities, some drawn from PRC recommendations. With only three months left in this session of the DC Council, there is still much work to do. The Black-led #SafeAndFreeDC coalition invites all interested to learn more and consider joining them in promoting viable, important legislation.
Police Reform Commission, Council Response
Back in 2020, the DC Council responded to calls for re-examining the role of police in our city with temporary legislation limiting certain practices, including neck restraints, and establishing the DC Police Reform Commission (PRC). PRC was to “examine policing practices in the District and provide evidence-based recommendations for reforming and revisioning policing in the District.” After months of study and deliberation, PRC issued its recommendations in an April 2021 report, Decentering Police to Improve Public Safety (259-page full Decentering Police report; twenty-page Summary). EXACTLY ZERO of the recommendations have been implemented; see GrassRootsDC for “what went wrong.”
2022 Coalition and Summit
Early in 2022, three organizations — DC Justice Lab, Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, and the National Re-entry Network for Returning Citizens — joined together to create the #SafeAndFreeDC shared legislative agenda. It sets forth solutions that are “evidence-based, directly responsive to community needs and goals, and carefully and thoughtfully drafted.” This Black-led policy platform includes several bills related to the PRC recommendations, some already under Council review and some ready for introduction.
The informative February summit is available on video.
See also: In-depth conversation with Bethany Young, now deputy director of DC Justice Lab and former manager of the DC Police Reform Commission.
Current Status of “Safe and Free” Agenda
ONE of the 18 bills, “Clean Hands Certification Equity Amendment Act,” passed in July of this year. For second of 18, “Revised Criminal Code Act of 2021,” passed November 16 more information here.
Seven are still awaiting introduction. Nine bills were introduced but have not made it out of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.
Details and links to the legislation are provided on the Safe and Free DC website, but here for convenience is a synopsis.
1/21: Reparations Foundation Fund and Task Force Establishment Act (B24-048)
4/21: Record Expungement Simplification to Offer Relief and Equity (RESTORE) Amendment Act (B24-180)
7/22: ERASE Solitary Confinement (B24-0946) — UPDATE 9/21: Hearing Oct 20 [BACK to top]
The following had hearings but are still awaiting committee action:
- Law Enforcement Vehicular Pursuit Reform Act (24-213); hearing May 2021
- Strengthening Oversight and Accountability of Police Amendment Act (24-365); hearing Oct 2021
- Youth Rights Amendment Act (B24-306); hearing Oct 2021
- Redefinition of Child Amendment Act (24-338); hearing Oct 2021
- Street Vending Decriminalization Amendment Act (B24-049) introduced in January 2021; hearing was held on November 16; more at November update post
Individuals are invited to sign on to the legislative agenda. Learn more at SafeAndFreeDC.com.