WASHINGTON, Sept. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Lawyers for a long-time Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) sergeant and for D.C. Black residents subjected to alleged unconstitutional arrests called on the D.C. Council to scuttle legislation proposed by Brooke Pinto, Chair of the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary, which would subject D.C. residents, especially Black residents, to unconstitutional searches and prosecutions.
In a misguided attempt to combat increased crime rates, Chair Pinto proposed subjecting D.C. residents to unconstitutional searches and seizures, including tactics called "jump outs." Although the MPD supposedly outlawed jump outs in 2015 ? presumably in recognition of the illegality of stopping and searching groups of predominantly young Black men in poor communities ? this legislation attempts to codify it as a law enforcement tool.
The legislation Chair Pinto proposed would legalize jump outs for individuals the police divine are on probation or parole for gun offenses. Since there is no way to determine who to stop and search, implicit stereotypes linking minorities with violent crime (implicit bias) will influence the police to stop people of color in poor neighborhoods. This tactic is not only unconstitutional, but also ineffective nationwide, leading to disproportionate deaths of young African-Americans.
Dr. Jack Glaser, an expert in bias in policing at U.C. Berkeley, has found these MPD practices to be discriminatory and leading to disproportionate stops of Black residents.
The D.C. Council's approval of jump outs would increase distrust between the Black community and the police, and less effective policing. This legislation would have a ripple-effect on communities of color, to force individuals subject to unconstitutional searches to make decisions about their cases before this legislation is challenged in court.
The legislation is so flawed that the Chief Judges of the D.C. Superior Court and D.C. Court of Appeals have written a letter to the D.C. Council arguing that the proposed legislation is facially unconstitutional.
As civil rights lawyers, we call on the D.C. Council to scrap this legislation and consider more effective ways of joining law enforcement and communities to fight crime, rather than alienating the Black community.
Lynne Bernabei, Bernabei & Kabat (Washington, D.C.), 202-745-1942 (ext. 232)
Joe Caleb, Caleb Andonian (Washington, D.C.), 202-953-9849
Dr. Jack Glaser (University of California, Berkeley), 415-516-6891 or 510-642-3047
SOURCE Bernabei & Kabat, PLLC
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