D.C. Councilmember holds roundtable to discuss policing, public safety

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Dozens of residents from wards seven and eight gave emotional testimony at two different roundtable discussions on Thursday.

Councilmember Charles Allen, Chairperson of the Committee on the Judiciary held a discussion Thursday morning, and at the Deanwood Recreation Center on Thursday night, to discuss how to rebuild trust with the Metropolitan Police Department.

At the morning session, councilmembers spent hours questioning and going back and forth with D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham.

Councilmember Allen played the video from outside Nook's Barber and Beauty Salon in Northeast, which some believe shows an illegal stop-and-frisk by D.C. Police.

"The recent incident at Nook’s Barber Shop is emblematic of an approach to policing that has led to a lack of trust between police and the neighborhoods that they serve," said Councilmember David Grosso.

Chief Newsham once again confirmed that the man that police confiscated the B.B. gun from was not in any way affiliated with police.

He also said they are investigating if the officer had probable cause to search the man that is recorded sitting down in the video.

Councilmember Allen had concerns that police initially approached the crowd asking about the tinted windows, but then started asking for everyone's identification.

Chief Newsham argued that they are legally allowed to ask for ID's, but no one is forced to hand them over.

"What proceeded the behavior and what followed the behavior is all very important in determining what happened," he said. "If we do see that there is police misconduct involved, we are going to hold our members accountable."

Chief Newsham said they are also investigating the video of officers searching Jeffrey Price's mother's home. Two of the officers have been removed from the Gun Recovery Unit, but are still with the department.

Price was killed in a crash, while riding his dirt bike, with a D.C. Police vehicle back in May.

Councilmember Vincent Gray called on Chief Newsham to have the officers fired.

"I take responsibility for that, I should have made sure that we had been able to train our officers in a way that never happens, I feel like that was an inappropriate contact with the community," said Chief Newsham.

At Thursday night's roundtable, dozens of residents shared personal stories of their interaction with police.

Several called on major changes within D.C. Police, including a new training program.