Code of the District of Columbia

§ 5–1107. Authority of the Office and processing of complaint.

*NOTE: This section includes amendments by temporary legislation that will expire on April 16, 2022. To view the text of this section after the expiration of all emergency and temporary legislation affecting this section, click this link: Permanent Version.*

(a) The MPD and the Office shall have the authority to receive a citizen complaint against a member or members of the MPD, and any other agency pursuant to subsection (j) of this section that alleges abuse or misuse of police powers by such member or members, including:

(1) Harassment;

(2) Use of unnecessary or excessive force;

(3) Use of language or conduct that is insulting, demeaning, or humiliating;

(4) Discriminatory treatment based upon a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, family responsibilities, physical disability, matriculation, political affiliation, source of income, or place of residence or business;

(5) Retaliation against a person for filing a complaint pursuant to this chapter; or

(6) Failure to wear or display required identification or to identify oneself by name and badge number when requested to do so by a member of the public.

(a-1) If the MPD receives a citizen complaint under subsection (a) of this section, the MPD shall transmit the citizen complaint to the Office within 3 business days after receipt.

(b) If a complaint alleges misconduct that is not within the authority of the Office to review, the Executive Director shall refer the allegation to the Police Chief for further processing by the MPD or the District of Columbia Housing Authority Police Department ("HAPD"), as appropriate.

(b-1) The Office shall have the sole authority to dismiss, conciliate, mediate, adjudicate, or refer for further action to the MPD or the HAPD a citizen complaint received under subsection (a) or (b) of this section.

(c) Any individual having personal knowledge of alleged police misconduct may file a complaint with the Office on behalf of a victim.

(d) To be timely, a complaint must be received by the Office within 90 days from the date of the incident that is the subject of the complaint. The Executive Director may extend the deadline for good cause.

(e) Each complaint shall be reduced to writing and signed by the complainant.

(f) Complaint forms shall conclude with the following words: “I hereby certify that to the best of my knowledge, and under penalty of perjury, the statements made herein are true.”.

(g) The Executive Director shall screen each complaint and may request additional information from the complainant. Within 7 working days of the receipt of the complaint, or within 7 working days of the receipt of additional information requested from the complainant, the Executive Director shall take one of the following actions:

(1) Dismiss the complaint, with the concurrence of one member of the Board;

(2) Refer the complaint to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for possible criminal prosecution;

(3) Attempt to conciliate the complaint;

(4) Refer the complaint to mediation;

(5) Refer the complaint for investigation; or

(6) Refer the subject police officer or officers to complete appropriate policy training by the MPD or the HAPD.

(g-1)(1) If the Executive Director discovers evidence of abuse or misuse of police powers that was not alleged by the complainant in the complaint, the Executive Director may:

(A) Initiate the Executive Director's own complaint against the subject police officer; and

(B) Take any of the actions described in subsection (g)(2) through (6) of this section.

(2) The authority granted pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection shall include circumstances in which the subject police officer failed to:

(A) Intervene in or subsequently report any use of force incident in which the subject police officer observed another law enforcement officer, including an MPD officer, utilizing excessive force or engaging in any type of misconduct, pursuant to MPD General Order 901.07, its successor directive, or a similar local or federal directive; or

(B) Immediately report to their supervisor any violations of the rules and regulations of the MPD committed by any other MPD officer, and each instance of their use of force or a use of force committed by another MPD officer, pursuant to MPD General Order 201.26, or any successor directive.

(h) The Executive Director shall notify in writing the complainant and the subject police officer or officers of the action taken under subsection (g) or (g-1) of this section. If the complaint is dismissed, the notice shall be accompanied by a brief statement of the reasons for the dismissal, and the Executive Director shall notify the complainant that the complaint may be brought to the attention of the Police Chief who may direct that the complaint be investigated and that appropriate action be taken.

(h-1) The MPD and the HAPD shall notify the Executive Director when a subject police officer or officers completes policy training pursuant to subsection (g)(6) of this section.

(h-2)(1) The Office shall have the authority to audit citizen complaints referred to the MPD or the HAPD for further action.

(2) The Executive Director, acting on behalf of the Board, shall have timely and complete access to information and supporting documentation specifically related to the Board’s auditing duties under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(3) The Executive Director shall keep confidential the identity of all persons named in any documents transferred from the MPD or the HAPD to the Office pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(4) A Freedom of Information Act request for public records collected under paragraph (1) of this subsection may only be submitted to the MPD or the HAPD.

(5) Beginning on December 31, 2017, and by December 31 of each year thereafter, the Board shall deliver a report to the Mayor and the Council that analyzes the information evaluated by the Board under paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(i) For purposes of § 1-616.01 [repealed], the receipt by the Office of an oral or written complaint shall not constitute knowledge or cause to know of acts, occurrences, or allegations contained in such complaint. For purposes of § 1-616.01, the MPD shall be deemed to know or have cause to know of the acts, occurrences, or allegations in a complaint received by the Office at the time the MPD receives written notice from the Office that an allegation in a complaint processed by the Office has been sustained.

(j) This subchapter shall also apply to the [HAPD] and to any federal law enforcement agency that, pursuant to Chapter 3 of this title, has a cooperative agreement with the MPD that requires coverage by the Office; provided, that the Chief of the respective law enforcement department or agency shall perform the duties of the MPD Chief of Police for the members of their respective departments.

(k) By February 1 of each year, the Office of Police Complaints shall provide a report to the Council on the effectiveness of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Body-Worn Camera Program, including an analysis of use of force incidents.