GLAA Joins NAACP Task Force

GLAA Joins NAACP Task Force

On Thursday, April 17, the DC Branch of the NAACP announced the formation of the Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Review Task Force, whose purpose is to review and evaluate the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as the District's prisons, courts and prosecutors. GLAA President Rick Rosendall is participating in the task force, which is being assembled with representatives from a diverse range of constituencies within the District and is being facilitated by Mark Thompson, Political Action Chair of the NAACP's DC Branch.

The Task Force will specifically call for reestablishment of civilian review of complaints of police misconduct, and will examine Police Chief Larry Soulsby's controversial "Zero Tolerance" program, as well as evaluate a recent Clinton Administration proposal to assist the District by taking over the District's correctional facilities. GLAA, whose concerns include preservation of Home Rule, due process, and full enforcement of the DC Human Rights Law, has criticized recent discriminatory enforcement practices by the MPD, and is already on record as endorsing legislation to establish a Police Conduct Review Board, which DC Council Judiciary Committee Chair Jack Evans has pledged to pass and to fund before the end of 1997.

The Task Force's official mission statement is as follows:

The mission of the Task Force is to study and evaluate the policies and procedures of various components of the criminal justice system purporting to serve the citizens of the District of Columbia.

On the basis of study and evaluation, the Task Force will offer constructive recommendations to insure that the various components serve the citizens, protect the citizens, reflect the diversity within the District, and respect all human rights.

In particular, the Task Force will study, evaluate, and address the following components of the criminal justice system:

  1. the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia,
  2. the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia,
  3. defense services provided under the Criminal Justice Act and by the Office of the Public Defender,
  4. the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and
  5. the penal and probationary institutions serving the District of Columbia.
Finally, because various proposals have recently been made (such as "The President's National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Plan") which would entail fundamental changes in many aspects of the criminal justice system in the District of Columbia, the Task Force will study and evaluate these proposals and make constructive recommendations to enhance, alter, or oppose such proposals to insure that they serve the citizens of the District and respect all human rights.

Members of the task force include:

Deputy Chief Wyndell Watkins (Ret.), MPD
Tom Blagburn, former Community Affairs Director, MPD
Ron Hampton, Executive Director, National Black Police Association
Cheryl Epps, Governmental Affairs Director, Drug Policy Foundation
Mary Jane DeFrank, National Capital Area ACLU
Judith Browne, NAACP Legal Defense Fund
Rick Rosendall, President, Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Donald Temple, former Chair, District Civilian Complaint Review Board
Rev. Willie Wilson, Pastor, Union Temple Baptist Church
Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Sam Smith, Publisher, Progressive Review
Rick Malachi, Community Activist
Mark Thompson, NAACP DC Branch Political Action Committee Chair
Morris Shearin, NAACP DC Branch President

[incomplete listing]

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