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Next Coalition Training: “Accessing D.C. Police Records”

Fritz Mulhauser | October 4, 2021 | Last modified: October 5, 2021

The next “Digging Into DC!” community conversation/training session is coming up, this time about how to get information from the Metropolitan Police Department.

WHAT: D.C. has for decades had a Freedom of Information Act that allows requests for police records but results have been mixed and this session will dive into the details. When body cameras came along and the mayor proposed the video be secret, strong community pressure led to requirements for access. Then when video was often delayed, a new law required the mayor to promptly release it and officers’ names at least in cases of police shooting deaths and other serious uses of force.

But all other body-camera video releases take forever, cost a fortune, and come out over-redacted. Records of other cases can be sealed for years of investigation. And complaints and discipline investigation files are rarely released. The D.C. Police Reform Commission in March recommended many further changes for the transparency needed to rebuild public confidence. Following other states such as Maryland and New York, a bill to open previously hidden D.C. police files will be subject of a Council hearing October 21.  

Join us to get behind-the-scenes insight into the fight for open police records from the reporters in the trenches and lawyers and their clients victimized by police secrecy and learn how to request and use police records to hold D.C. police accountable.

This is the second in a series of free events on how to locate a range of information; further sessions are planned on social services and special agencies such as transit. The first was on school data, and can be viewed here.

The sessions are being presented jointly by the D.C. Open Government Coalition, D.C. Library Association and D.C. Office of Open Government.

WHEN: Via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 12.

WHO: Speakers include:

Amy Phillips, attorney, D.C. Public Defender Service

Mitch Ryals, “Loose Lips” columnist and managing editor, Washington City Paper

Michael Perloff, staff attorney, ACLU of D.C.

Catherine Young, DC resident who has struggled to piece together information from the police shooting in 2018 of her son D’Quan Young

Miranda Spivack, moderator; journalist and open government expert, D.C. OGC board member

WHERE: Attend virtually on Oct. 12 at 6:30. The event is free and open to all, but registration is required.


Please come prepared with your questions about the best ways to get information from the D.C. police department. We look forward to seeing you at Digging into DC!