The changes began in 1998 with a Washington Post series on DC police that described “a pattern of reckless and indiscriminate gunplay.” Chief Charles Ramsey had just taken over the department. Shocked by the newspaper series, he became the first police chief in the nation to invite the Justice Department in to review the police department’s use of force. In 2001 Justice drew up a memorandum of agreement with the DC police revising the regulations governing the use of force. The result put in place a system for controlling and disciplining cops, including the creation of special divisions and an outside monitor to investigate police behavior.
The apparatus seems to investigate cops with more rigor than it investigates criminals. What started in 2001 as a system to monitor cops who used their weapons too often has developed into a blunt instrument that punishes some of DC’s best and brightest and allows criminals to use the system against officers trying to make streets safe.
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