DC auditor report calls for major police reform after fatal shootings

The Office of the D.C. Auditor released a report Tuesday taking a closer look at how D.C. police have handled fatal shootings involving officers over the past few years, pointing out the need for reform within the department.

The report focuses on areas that were not improved from the last report in 2016, as well as four fatal shootings between 2018 and 2019 involving Jeffrey Price, Jr., D’Quan Young, Marqueese Alston and Eric Carter.

D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson said while the department made impressive improvements in previous years, the recent report shows a need for more training and transparency.

“Our review did not second guess the U.S. Attorney’s decision to not file criminal charges, but we did find that there were many opportunities for de-escalation, opportunities for training that simply have not been taken,” she said.

Some of the major recommendations include more training for investigators who handle use-of- force cases, specific recommendations on training, police and best practices from the Use of Force Board, public access to final reports and more thorough analyses of actions by officers that lead up to incidents.

The main goal, Patterson said, is to continue to hold officers accountable.

“It’s also a way to look forward and say how can we not repeat mistakes, how can we make sure that our officers all know how to best de-escalate a situation,” she added.

Acting Police Chief Robert Contee responded: “Auditor’s report confirmed that the uses of force in the cases reviewed were justified, we recognize that the loss of any life is tragic, and as a department, we must ensure that we are doing everything in our power to prevent those situations from occurring … MPD agrees with the recommendations and has already begun working on implementation.”

Contee will take part in a confirmation hearing Thursday, and Patterson hopes there will be a  conversation about his plans to improve operations.

“It’s going to be a real test if they’re going to improve the investigations,” Patterson said.

She added that her office is currently investigating deadly shootings involving D.C. officers that happened in 2020. The D.C. Auditor’s next report is expected to be released later this year.

In a statement, the D.C. Police Union disagreed with the auditor report, challenging why the officers attempted to stop the suspects and the tactics used. It also called the report a “political swipe.”

“The suggestion that officers should not be investigating such offenses are an affront to everything that has been said or directed by the Mayor and the Chief of Police for years. Both have repeatedly stated publically (sic) that the rising homicide and violent crime rate is due wholly to ‘illegal guns,'” Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton said.

“The City and MPD has largely focused its efforts to reduce murders on identifying and apprehending those who carry and use illegal firearms. These officers were doing the exact job that the department and the citizens asked them to do, which is apprehend violent gunmen.”

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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