TODAY! DCTC testifying before DC Council on Anti-Trans Violence; Letter sent to Mayor Gray

This morning, DCTC sent a letter to DC Mayor Vince Gray on anti-trans violence and police response, and we will be testifying before the DC Council Judiciary Committee as part of the annual oversight hearing on the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). We will also be participating in a briefing for Council members and staff on preventing anti-trans violence, including passing an implementing DC’s proposed anti-bullying bill, supporting the research being conducted through our DC Trans Needs Assessment project, and improving police accountability.

Last fall, we engaged mediators with the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service to facilitate conversations between us and the MPD, which had stalled earlier that summer, in spite of an increasing and ongoing wave of anti-trans violence. Yet to date, MPD has refused to accept or deny our request. Therefore today we are calling for increased accountability measures from the mayor and the DC Council to address the problem of anti-trans police bias, and create greater community accountability for police actions.

From our Council testimony:

As we noted at the November 2011 hearing on hate crimes and police response, we have concluded that a culture of anti-trans bias within MPD is at the root of these persistent challenges… This intrinsic bias against trans people manifests itself in several ways:

  • Failure to train all officers in how to interact appropriately with trans people,
  • Failure to devote sufficient resources to solving crimes against trans people,
  • Failure to gather adequate data on crimes involving trans people,
  • Failure to discipline officers who act inappropriately towards trans people, and
  • Increased likelihood of trans people facing arrest for non-violent crimes.

From our letter to Mayor Gray:

The changes we seek from MPD are neither radical nor overly burdensome. Our goals are as follows:

  • An immediate update on the status of investigations of violent crimes involving trans people, especially the seven unsolved homicides from the past decade. There have been more confirmed trans murders in DC than any other city in the United States since 2000, yet only about a quarter of these have been solved. However, MPD has persistently failed to explain why these cases languish, sometimes for over ten years.
  • The reestablishment of the Biased Policing Task Force, with trans representation. MPD disbanded this body in 2008, in spite of the recommendation from the Police Complaints Board and several community organizations that its work continue.
  • Verifiable discipline taken against MPD officers who violate policy related to trans people. Both 2010 and 2011 saw egregious attacks on trans people by police officers. In one case, while no criminal proceedings took place, MPD has been unable to explain whether or not the offending officer is still patrolling the streets, potentially endangering the lives of other trans people.
  • A budget and timetable for ensuring that all MPD officers receive training in interacting with trans people, using community-informed curriculum, over the course of the next 18 months.  In the first 18 months of MPD’s LGBT training program, which is run entirely by community volunteers, approximately 200 officers have been trained. At this pace, it would take over 30 years for the entire force to receive appropriate training – an entirely unacceptable time period.

Be sure to read our full letter here, and our testimony here.

The MPD oversight hearing starts this morning at 10:00am in the Room 412 at the Wilson Building. If you can’t make the hearing in person, you can watch it live on cable channel 13, or stream online here.

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