DC police officers say raising serious concerns led to retaliation

Two D.C. police officers said blowing the whistle on things they saw inside the department led to “severe” retaliation. And they have taken their allegations to the D.C. Council.

During a committee hearing for the council judiciary and public safety committee, Sgt. Charlotte Djossou said she came forward when she discovered the department’s Narcotics and Special Investigations Division had been targeting minorities without probable cause.

“Officers were targeting groups of minority males and violating Fourth Amendment rights, jumping out,” Djossou said.

Officer Tabatha Knight told the committee that she blew the whistle on some members of the department who were reducing crimes to lesser charges to improve crime statistics in the city.

Knight said that included two assault with a dangerous weapon cases.

In one, the charge was downgraded to simple assault, even though she said the victim was slashed across the face.

In a second case, which she said involved a member of the LGBTQ community, Knight said even though the victim reported having a knife put to the neck, the charges against the suspect were downgraded to threats and simple assault.

Both officers said that after they came forward, the issues they brought up were not addressed, and instead they experienced retaliation, which included transfers to other departments, bad reviews, and mistreatment by colleagues.

Knight said that other officers had said they are too worried to come forward because of the treatment they fear they would receive if they did.

“Retaliation is very severe at the Metropolitan Police Department because I’ve been facing it off and on for years because I do speak up. I’m not afraid to speak up,” Knight said.

Djossou and Knight believe a lack of diversity is to blame for how their situations have been handled.

“Issues that we have with the Metropolitan Police Department comes because there’s no diversity at the top,” Knight said.

The D.C. Police Department said it is aware of the testimony and is conducting an internal investigation.

Council member Charles Allen, who heads the committee, told the officers that he wanted to speak with them more about the allegations and question the department in a future hearing.

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