WASHINGTON, DC – Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, which includes oversight of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), announced today the Committee voted to move the Mayor’s nominee for Police Chief, Peter Newsham, forward by a vote of 4 to 1 to 1 in support.
The vote comes after three public hearings totaling more than 15 hours in public testimony. The first hearing was held in Ward 8, the second in Ward 6, and the third was an 11-hour hearing at the Wilson Building on Friday, March 24. More than 100 witnesses shared their views on the nominee and their priorities and concerns for the larger Metropolitan Police Department.
“I want to thank the many, many DC residents who took time to share both their support and opposition to this nominee. Choosing a new police chief is a major decision for our city and it deserves a lot of discussion and scrutiny,” said Councilmember Allen. “In the end, I have decided to vote in support of Chief Newsham because I believe his experience on the force, the bonds he has formed in our community, and the professional growth he has shown reassures me he will continue to help the MPD grow and improve to fit the needs of our community.”
“That said, the Committee takes very seriously the opposition and concerns that were expressed by some residents and is making several recommendations for the MPD and the Executive based on testimony we heard,” said Allen.
The Committee strongly encourages MPD to follow the recommendations of the Police Complaint Board and undertake an independent review of all aspects of MPD’s actions on Inaugural Weekend, January 20-21, 2017.
“This third-party report, coupled with MPD’s own internal review, should provide a clear picture of what went well, what didn’t, and what reforms are needed,” said Councilmember Allen.
The Committee also made several recommendations for measures to enhance community trust and improve community-police relations, which can only be accomplished through close partnership with residents, community leaders, and law enforcement personnel. Focus on issues like the NEAR Act and others have put a spotlight on community-based policing and worked to help see crime as not just a law enforcement issue, but also one that needs a comprehensive public health approach. These recommendations are detailed in the full Committee Report.
Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6), Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3), Councilmember Anita Bonds (At-Large) and Council Chair Phil Mendelson voted in favor. Councilmember David Grosso (At-Large) voted against and Councilmember Vince Gray (Ward 7) voted present. The nomination will be considered by the full Council on May 2.