DC’s police reform panel encourages public to testify at upcoming virtual public forum

A D.C. Council-appointed panel plans to host a virtual public forum on policing just days after a major shake-up at the top of the District’s local law enforcement body.

D.C. Police Reform Commission, which has several smaller panels investigating specific racial and justice reform matters, said its MPD Accountability and Oversight Committee will be holding a public comment event Thursday night.

The commission encourages the public to sign up to testify and offer reform suggestions or view the proceeding.

Announcing the news on social media, the commission said the forum welcomes “experiences, insights, and ideas to strengthen oversight & accountability” of D.C. police.

It’s one of several sessions and meetings coming this month before a final report on revamping the police department is submitted by Dec. 31.

The panel is currently examining several different areas to improve, such as policing in schools, different ways of responding to incidents and disciplining law enforcement.

D.C. Council approved the commission’s formation through a policing act passed in June, after the death of George Floyd and subsequent protesting against police brutality in the District and nationwide.

In August, 20 people, ranging from public advocates, legal experts, educators and business leaders, were appointed onto the panel to investigate and recommend changes in criminal justice and police reform.

The commission’s home stretch of work also comes during a time of significant change at the top of the District’s law enforcement structure.

Last week, Prince William County, Virginia, announced that D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham was hired take over to head its police department starting in February.

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