For years, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) secretly operated under a set of general and special orders which it refused to make public or provide to civil rights organizations and lawyers. The PCJF filed suit to disgorge this large body of material that the MPD sought to conceal from the public. After hard-fought litigation in which the MPD’s attorneys at the OAG fought disclosure, the PCJF succeeded in forcing these orders to be revealed to the public with a landmark ruling which pulled back the MPD’s veil of secrecy.
In her March 2012 ruling from the bench, Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso called police officials’ affidavits, which were sworn under penalty of perjury and submitted to the Court in an unsuccessful effort to defeat the lawsuit, “transparently false.”
Further, Judge Macaluso said that the credibility of the statements sworn under penalty of perjury by MPD officials had “been smashed to smithereens.” The Judge repeatedly referred to the police’s sworn statements as to why documents could not be seen by the public as “false,” as well as “ridiculous,” “practically hysterical,” and “hyperbolic.”
This litigation resulted in the largest and most comprehensive release of D.C. police documents in the history of D.C.’s Freedom of Information Act. The PCJF forced the MPD to disclose nearly all of its General Orders and Special Orders and related directives that dictate how officers are to exercise their authority.
Since the litigation, the MPD has had to publish the materials on its website for public review. The public can review what the MPD internal policy dictates regarding police-resident contacts, stops and frisks, use of force, restrictions on MPD high speed vehicular pursuits, use of closed-circuit television cameras, handling of property, obligations to release persons through the citation release program, electronic recording of interrogations, use of canines, traffic safety compliance checkpoints and a range of other issues that span the full scope of police authority.
PCJF v. District of Columbia, Superior Court of the District of Columbia | 2009 CA 000748 B
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