DC commission discusses police reform within communities, schools

At a Tuesday panel discussion on the future of D.C. policing, advocates and experts focused on how to realistically implement recent suggestions made by a D.C. Council commission after last summer’s protests.

During the Future of Policing in D.C. forum, Kenethia Alston — an activist and mother who lost her son Marqueese in 2018 after he was shot and killed by police — said more transparency and the release of body camera footage is crucial to building trust.

“I would like to have the full unedited copy of the killing of my son,” she said.

Police Reform Commission co-chair Robert Bobb pointed out the importance of accountability and transparency around how the police department functions.

“I think, when there is complete transparency, it makes for a better partnership between the police department and the community that it serves,” Bobb said.

The commission’s report also focused on the need for more mental health support, restorative justice policies and the institutional ways in which anti-Blackness is a part of the system, especially in schools.

Christy Lopez, a Georgetown University professor who also serves on the commission, said more support and change is key. She stressed the need for less police interaction.

“The problem is, we have been a culture that thinks these kids respond differently to stimuli and if these were white kids, we would be like ‘oh my gosh, these kids need support,”’ she added. “You’re not actually a responsible adult until you’re about 24, we know that. We need to have our decisions driven by science and by facts rather than just by how we’ve always done things.”

Bobb said the report overall focuses on transitioning law enforcement from “warriors” to a role more akin to “guardians” of the community, which means making conscious decisions to engage.

“I would really encourage members of our community who are interested in policing issues to dig deeply inside the recommendations … and then, let’s move forward as a community to make our city much safer than it is today.”

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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