DC has long used special police units to help fight crime


As soon as the car pulls up and the officers jump out – sometimes in civilian clothes, always with body armor – the boys on the street know what to do.

“They all pull their shirts up,” Ryan Morgan said. “They know they want to see their waistband.”

Morgan is 31 and has spent almost half his life being stopped and searched by specialized police units that cruise through his southwest Washington neighborhood.

The squads operate in many American cities. They’re often greeted by residents who’ve been besieged in a crime-heavy neighborhood, and they’re feted by police chiefs and mayors eager to improve crime numbers and come across as quick and decisive.

you stop. felting take guns. And people want the guns gone. Despite the damage they can inflict, the aggressive units often stay. But over the weekend America saw what can go wrong when the laser-sharp focus of aggressive policing is on a neighborhood.

In Memphis it was Scorpion or the Street Crimes Operation to Restore Peace in Our Neighborhoods. And the nation gasped in horror after police released video of the traffic disruption by the Scorpion unit that ended in the death of 29-year-old Tire Nichols, showing CID policing at its deadliest. This unit has since been shut down.

In DC, one of those tactical units deployed to a crime-heavy area in 2017 was called Powershift, and its members wore funky t-shirts with a stylized cross and the phrase Morgan and his friends heard so often: “Leave me.” Look at that waistband.” It also had the letters “Jo,” which stand for “jump out.”

DC Police are suspending an officer wearing a shirt with a symbol used by a racist group

In the land of the Black Lives Matter Plaza, some people still find it hard to believe these squads are still operating in DC, said Patrice Sulton, a civil rights attorney and founder and executive director of DC Justice Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to “community.” – rooted” public safety overhauls.

But “they’re out there,” said Sulton, who is hearing from numerous Black DC residents who have outrageous stories of being stopped and searched.

The DC police have yet to answer my questions. But in October, Police Chief Robert J. Contee III placed seven officers from a special unit focused on violent crimes on administrative leave or desk duty after investigations revealed they took away guns from people without arresting them.

Proponents say stop-and-search stops are common in DC neighborhoods, and they want city leaders to outlaw such practices. These tactics were severely curtailed in New York when US District Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled stop-and-frisk unconstitutional in 2013.

“This case addresses the tension between liberty and public safety in the use of a proactive policing tool called the ‘stop and frisk,'” Scheindlin wrote in her op-ed, noting that while the policing stops could be effective, they are one take great toll on the people.

“While it is true that each stop is a limited intrusion of time and a deprivation of liberty, each stop is also a degrading and humiliating experience,” she wrote. “No one should live in fear of being stopped when leaving home to engage in activities of daily living. Those who are routinely stopped are predominantly people of color, and they are rightly concerned at being singled out when many of them have done nothing to draw the unwanted attention.”

The Stop Police Terror Project DC calls for such a ban. The group sued DC police for data on their stops, and the numbers are now regularly released thanks to their efforts.

The figures show that 72.83 percent of people stopped by police since March 2018 — that’s 245,701 stops — were black, in a city that’s 45.8 percent black.

“You have to watch out for the cars that jump out,” a young boy told Seema Sadanandan in 2013, as she had just joined the American Civil Liberties Union and was speaking to children in the Kenilworth housing development in Washington.

“He was referring to them [D.C. police] The roving unmarked vice squad cars that are ubiquitous in most of the district’s black neighborhoods, from which officers jump out and aggressively “stop and search” people, she wrote in the Washington Post.

Don’t disappoint the police. Rethink the police.

Morgan said he was stopped about 50 times.

“I’ll never forget the first time, when I was 16. I was just walking out of my house and they jumped out of the car and dragged me, pushed me up to my gate, started searching all my pockets,” Morgan said. “I screamed, ‘Dad, help! Dad, help me!’”

The police didn’t find anything on him at the time or ever, he said.

But Morgan, who owns his own production company and studied film in college, began filming the encounters. He now has a YouTube channel of outbursts, including his most recent when police ran a drug dog through his car after they pulled over him. He was just waiting for someone and watching videos on his phone.

“It was a nice car, a 2017,” he said. “They said my windows were too dark. And they let that dog through; he scratched everything.”

There was no arrest, no ticket for a tinted window. He just looked “suspicious,” they told him.

“It’s in my neighborhood,” he said. “In front of my family’s house.”

“Now? I don’t even want to be outside anymore,” Morgan said. “After you saw the video in Memphis? I don’t feel safe anywhere outside of my home now.”


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