The D.C. Police Union has gone on the offensive, blaming the rise in crime and a shrinking police force squarely on two members of the D.C. Council.
In a 30-second TV ad airing on local cable, the union argues Council Chairman Phil Mensdelson and Ward 6 Council Member Charles Allen ignored public safety experts when passing a police reform bill two years ago.
As you may imagine, the council members are pushing back.
If you’re watching TV in the District this week, you may have seen the ad.
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“Who’s to blame for this crime wave? D.C. Council members Charles Allen and Phil Mendelson,” a voice says at the start of the ad. “Their laws let criminals run free and prevent police from keeping us safe.”
It goes on to blame the local lawmakers for a shrinking police force and a crime wave the union says the city hasn’t experienced in 20 years.
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Greg Pemberton is president of the union and explained the reason behind the ad.
“The fact is, that the totality of that bill, what it does is it prevents officers from doing their job and it causes them to go look for employment elsewhere,” he said.
Pemberton said the police reform bill passed in 2020 will eventually take away officers’ rights to due process, which makes it difficult to recruit and retain good cops.
The police union said it’s taking the message directly to D.C. residents because the lobbying efforts at the council have not gone their way.
Mendelson said changes to police accountability were needed, and that’s what the law accomplished. He said he does not believe there’s a nexus between the reform bill, the crime wave and the shrinking police force.
He said he hadn’t seen the ad until Thursday afternoon.
“They don’t like the fact that a law that was adopted two years ago says they can’t bargain their own discipline and make it so complicated and so un-transparent that really there isn’t accountability. That’s what this is about, is accountability,” Mendelson said.
But Pemberton said the council members aren’t reading the room.
“The changes that we requested are very minor. They involve collective bargaining for police officers. They involve protecting due process for police officers,” he said.
The ad leaves viewers with this: “Tell Phil Mendelson and Charles Allen enough is enough. Innocent people are dying.”
Though the police reform bill was passed in 2020, the law is not yet permanent, which is why the union is getting its message out now.