On Tuesday, the district council for Washington approved a raft of police reforms after days of protests against police brutality and racism in the US capital and nationwide, sparked by the death of African-American George Floyd in police custody.
The emergency legislation comes as a number of cities rethink approaches to policing. However, the move falls short of calls by some civil rights activists to defund city police departments. Neck restraints will be restricted, just like one used against Floyd, and requires the release of names and images from officers’ body cameras after “an officer-involved death or the serious use of force.”
The rule will also restrict the Metropolitan Police Department from hiring people with a documented history of police misconduct and place limits on non-deadly force and the police department’s acquisition of military weaponry, among other measures. Most Americans support the peaceful protests and disapprove of US President Donald Trump’s reaction to them.
“There’s no question whatsoever about whether we have to significantly reform our policing. The only question is whether we and our policing leadership are ready to step up to that challenge,” said district council member Robert White.
During a news conference on Monday, DC police chief Peter Newsham said the department had already made a number of reforms in the past two decades and would discuss concerns it had with Charles Allen, the council member who introduced the legislation.