SPTP DC, BLM DC, & Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green Letter to Council Re: Proposed MPD Union Contract

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Councilmember Elissa Silverman (Chair, Committee on Labor and Workforce Development)
Councilmember Charles Allen (Chair, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety)
Councilmember Mary M. Cheh
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie
Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr.
Councilmember Trayon White, Sr.

Dear Councilmembers:

It has been brought to our attention that the Committee plans to hold a roundtable on MPD’s proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on November 14, 2018. We are extremely concerned about the unreasonably short turn-around time as well the contents of the proposed agreement.

We ask the Members of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development to:

  1. Closely examine the proposed CBA before deciding whether it should be approved;

  2. Attend the public roundtable on Wednesday, November 14 at 1:00 p.m., and ask questions of the government witnesses regarding the substance and process of the proposed CBA; and

  3. In light of the lack of time afforded the Council for consideration, consider delaying approval until the Council -- and the public -- have had time to properly evaluate the proposed CBA and its potential ramifications

It appears the CBA was provided to the Council on October 15, 2018. However, this roundtable -- which is the only opportunity for public witnesses to provide input -- was not announced until after the November 6 election and is taking place two days before the CBA is “deemed approved” on November 16. This means that the Council has only two days to consider the CBA and any testimony before deciding upon the proposal or its approval by default. This extremely short two-day period between the roundtable and deadline, combined with the post-election timing, effectively eliminates the time for public witnesses, especially those who are most directly impacted, to testify and/or submit comments and for the Committee and Council to properly and thoroughly evaluate the substance of the CBA.

The fact that this CBA, as currently proposed, eliminates any changes to discipline (Article 12) from this agreement and negotiation is extremely concerning and appears to do the opposite of what the community has asked of the city and its police department. Not only would this CBA eliminate any changes to discipline, but it would also provide pay raises for three years (3% retroactively for FY18, 2% in FY19, and 3.5% in FY20) which are above the cost of living. These increases are not earned, and certainly not warranted. Raises would be rewarding MPD without requiring them to address the ongoing and increasing incidents of officer misconduct, use of force, and police-involved deaths. It would also mean effectively removing any bargaining leverage to improve the existing, and incredibly problematic, disciplinary provisions in the proposed separate “Joint Labor Management Committee” negotiation process.

To Black and other marginalized DC communities, this would only further solidify fears that MPD is once again being rewarded while increased targeting, abuse, and civil rights violations of their communities persist. These are just two of the most immediate and urgent concerns we have with this CBA.

No one should be disenfranchised by or from this process. We ask the Committee to allow more time to ensure that the Committee and the public may be fully informed of the contents of the proposed CBA, to ensure those who wish to contribute can, and for public and organizational witnesses to have reasonable time to examine and prepare in-depth and specific testimony on the substance of the proposal.

To be clear, although Black people make up 47% of D.C.’s population, they remain the subjects of the vast majority of all stops, frisks, and uses of force in the District. A January 2018 D.C. Office of Police Complaints (OPC) Report found that of the 2,224 total reported uses of force in FY 2017 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017), 89% involved a Black subject. A February 2018 investigative report from WUSA9 analyzed pre-NEAR Act data and found that approximately 80% of the stops involved a Black subject.

Just last week, OPC released its FY18 Annual Report that revealed officer misconduct complaints are up 78% since FY16, 780 complaints were received (the second consecutive year of receiving a record number of complaints), 501 new investigations were opened (more than any other year since OPC’s inception in 2001), and MPD use-of-force incidents have increased by 56% over the last five years, from 636 incidents in FY13 to 991 incidents in FY17.

We are strongly urging you to make it a priority to attend the roundtable in order to both listen and ask important questions, and request that you vote no on this proposed CBA so the parties may continue the bargaining process including disciplinary provisions in a manner that wholly reflects the gravity of the impact these decisions will have on MPD’s relationship with the public, particularly with Black and other marginalized communities in DC.

The lack of accountability or consequences for misconduct in MPD demands a real, immediate, upfront commitment to overhaul current disciplinary processes. The existing CBA’s disciplinary provisions, which would remain in force and potentially be worsened, are tragically inadequate and systematically prevent accountability or consequences for egregious behavior, and create a climate of impunity and toxic culture within MPD.

We strongly encourage the Committee to seriously consider whether the proposed CBA is the direction we should be going, and to explore whether rejecting this agreement and forcing the parties to negotiate the full scope of their agreement would be better for our city. At the very least, we ask that the Committee allow itself enough time to conduct a proper analysis and consideration of the proposal before allowing it to take effect.

Respectfully,

Black Lives Matter DC
Stop Police Terror Project DC
Anthony Lorenzo Green, Commissioner, ANC 7C04

Appendix:

While there are years of evidence, here are just a few examples of how the current disciplinary procedures harm, traumatize, put our communities at great risk, and leave our neighbors brutalized, even murdered: