D.C. Police Department Ordered To Release Orders And Policies

D.C. Police Department Ordered To Release Orders And Policies

Reprinted from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON -- How does D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department decide the order for handling calls? What was MPD planning to do if there was a nuclear accident at Maryland's Calvert Cliffs power station in the 1980s? You'll know soon.

It's Sunshine Week, and light is about to shine on the police department's processes and procedures.

The Metropolitan Police Department has been ordered by D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso to release almost all of its orders and policies to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. (Read the transcript of the hearing here.)

PCJF already maintains a massive online database of MPD documents. These documents were obtained in response to its lawsuit, originally filed in 2009.

The documents that Macaluso just ordered released were those that MPD has maintained are too sensitive to be given to the public. Macaluso found the police officials' affidavits submitted to that effect to be "transparently false" and had sharp words for the government's attorney, Chad Copeland, for relying on the false affidavits, saying that the District's willingness to do so "undermines nearly every argument the District of Columbia puts forward."

PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard told The Huffington Post she is pleased with the court's ruling but troubled by the police department's filing of false statements.

"If they can do it here, what are they doing in all of these cases where people are being prosecuted by the city? This is coming from high command," said Verheyden-Hilliard. "That makes it clear that they have a complete culture of disrespect for the idea that they need to be tied to the truth. Here it is Sunshine Week. It's so ironic."

From the bench, Macaluso ordered MPD to release its documents within two weeks. These include a 1981 document laying out the order for responding to calls and the process for handling minor citizen complaints -- the court noted that because 1986 version of this document is already publicly available, "the whole brew ha ha about whether or not it should be released is really rendered farcical."

The court is allowing some documents to be redacted before being released. These include a special order concerning the witness protection program and a document from the 1980s detailing the department's plan for handling a nuclear accident at Calvert Cliffs.

A document identifying the Seventh District tag reader plan and another concerning Seventh District hotspot staffing were authorized by the court to be witheld altogether. The court deferred ruling on several other documents, including an Internal Affairs manual.

The Office of D.C.'s Attorney General did not immediately respond when asked if it plans to appeal the court's ruling.