D.C. Police Chief addresses police stops and searches

2987284643_13b791bc83_bD.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier gave testimony to the D.C. Council’s public safety committee yesterday about stop-and-search procedures in the District and how police have been using them. Lanier recognized that police searches are sometimes problematic but also defended the police work done by her department’s officers.

Lanier’s testimony was prompted by mounting pressure on the D.C. Council to address police detainment procedures in D.C. The actions of police nationwide have been called into question since the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. D.C. has begun a pilot police body camera program since the shooting.

At the hearing, Lanier called police stops “pressure points” between locals and police, according to The Washington Post, and said that anyone who believes they were treated wrongfully by a police officer should call 911 and speak to a supervisor.

Lanier also noted, however, that D.C. uses stop-and-search tactics less than similar police departments around the country.

Not everyone was satisfied with the Chief’s testimony. Committee Chairman David Grosso said that he was startled by accounts of interactions between residents and police officers. “How did we become a society where coming of age for a teenager is not a first date or a first driver’s license, but an interaction with a D.C. police officer?” Grosso said, according to The Washington Post.

Lanier promised that police tactics will be updated to focus less on street-level crime, where less of the drug trade takes place than in past years, and that District police keep a careful record of each police stop, requiring officers to file written justification for each one.

Photo: Women in Uniform via Flickr

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