DC police chief tells officers the city council has "completely abandoned" them
WASHINGTON - In a video address to the D.C. Police force this week, Chief Peter Newsham said the District's City Council “forgot about our 20 years of reform.... and insinuated that somehow the Metropolitan Police force would be involved in an act of murder like we saw in Minneapolis."
Newsham went on to say “they forgot about our 20 years of reform and they insulted us by insinuating that we are in need of reform."
The Chief’s comments come in the wake of sweeping emergency police reform legislation that passed unanimously.
It's a bill that throws out the body-worn camera policy and puts in place one the Mayor has acknowledged may have “unforeseen consequences”.
RELATED: DC Council passes emergency police reform bill
Under the emergency law, officers' names and the body-worn camera footage must be released within 72 hours of a serious use of force incident.
Under the previous policy, videos could be released by the Mayor if there was public interest, and up until this week, there was no policy on when an officers name was made public.
The Mayor has only once released an officers name in a use of force incident.
That was in September of 2016, when motorcyclist Terrence Sterling was shot and killed by Officer Brain Trainer. Trainer was later fired.
A use of force incident is considered serious when an ambulance is called.
The bill also takes discipline out of the hands of the police union and collective bargaining and turns it over to “management” to come up with a policy of its own.
Under the police union's contract, the mayor does not have the power to fire a police officer. Instead, there is due process through what is called a trial board and the ultimate decision is left up to the police chief.
In his address to the force, Chief Newsham also said he was on the scene of a serious shooting Wednesday night in which multiple people were shot in Northeast and he “didn’t see any member of the D.C. Council on the scene and I didn’t see any member of their staff. When we reached out to them by phone they didn’t pick up”.
Newsham was not specific on who he may have called.
City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said he did not receive a call.
Charles Allen, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee and the author of the emergency legislation, declined to comment.
As for the claim the Council has abandoned the police, Mendelson said, “Washington D.C. is not Minneapolis, but the events that started in Minneapolis have affected police departments across the nation. There’s never anything wrong with the examining our practices, and I would not label that as abandoning our police."
"Rather, we want to invigorate community trust in our police," Mendelson said. "That’s beneficial to all."
Chief Newsham did not respond to a request for comment.
He routinely addresses the force on videos via private YouTube links.
FOX 5 has viewed the video and verified its authenticity with a police spokesman.
Click here to listen to Newsham's address.