DC police shouldn’t have guns, says Council Member

DC police shouldn’t have guns, says Council Member
Amid the ongoing militarization of police departments across the US with the Pentagon’s decommissioned inventory, a “controversial” idea was floated at a police oversight hearing in Washington, DC – to disarm local police officers altogether.

At a police oversight hearing in Washington, DC on Wednesday over the department’s policies and procedures, attendees heard about stop-and-frisk abuses – when an officer stops a pedestrian and frisks them on suspicion that may be in possession of drugs or weapons – as well as alleged racial profiling.

READ MORE:Police militarization comes under nationwide investigation

Information was given on ‘Jump-outs’ where arrest teams speed into an area making mass arrests, and the use of SWAT and SWAT-like teams used in hostile violent situations, but also increasingly being used in warrant investigations, according to dcist.com. And included in the mix was a radical recommendation by a DC council member.

My staff won’t let me tell you that I think we oughta get rid of guns in the city and that police shouldn’t have guns, so I’m not gonna tell you that,” said Council member David Grosso.

The comment surprised people attending the meeting, according to a CBS local affiliate. Gross is a registered independent, and took office in 2013.

“If we’re going to talk about community policing, and if we’re going to talk about building better relationships in the communities,” Gross told TheBlaze. “I think we have to put it on the table that everything is possible.”

His suggestion was supported at the meeting by City Council member Tommy Wells, (d) who chairs the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety and said the idea was not unprecedented.

In other countries, not every police enforcement officer is armed with a weapon that’s going to kill somebody,” said Wells.

Police forces in Britain, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Norway don’t carry guns. They can, however, call for an armed back-up, the equivalent of US SWAT team. There are two circumstances where police are armed – those guarding Downing Street – the Prime Minister’s residence and office, and at the nation’s airports.

READ MORE:Washington, DC ban on carrying handguns again in effect, being enforced by police

Grosso told TheBlaze he is not being naïve in suggesting disarming the police but he is trying to think outside the box. His argument is that DC doesn’t have an overwhelming number of situations where the police need to have gun in order to deescalate the situation – in 2012 there were 10,000 incidents of robbery, aggravated assault and burglary, as well as 84 homicides.

Grosso thinks more training could help the force answer those questions. “I don’t think it would be too much to ask if we kinda, hit the pause button, in a tough situation and bring someone in who is trained even more extensively on how to properly use a handgun – or any gun in the situation – than everyday officers,” he said.

READ MORE:‘Unbiased witness’: DC police to wear body cameras in $1mn pilot program

The oversight hearing happened a week after the city’s police began a pilot program wearing body-cameras. More than 160 officers will be outfitted with the cameras, which record their interactions with civilians. DC’s Police Commissioner hopes to introduce the pilot to the whole department next year.