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Roundtable on policing to be held as tensions escalate in Northeast DC

Roundtable on policing to be held as tensions escalate in Northeast DC. (ABC7)

D.C. Council is now getting involved amid a growing distrust of police in one Northeast Washington neighborhood.

A public roundtable on policing and public safety in Wards 7 and 8 is now set for July 12.

Councilmember Charles Allen, who chairs the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, called for the round table in response to recent tensions between police officers and community members in Deanwood.

Allen's office received a lot of calls, emails, and requests for assistance, after cell phone video showing several controversial exchanges between officers and community members surfaced on social media.

Both incidents took place outside Nook's Barber Shop on Sheriff Road NE.

In the first incident, residents allege D.C. Police staged a search outside of Nook's in order to conduct an improper stop and frisk.

In the second incident, video shows a violent clash between officers and a group of people outside of Nook's. Relatives of a three-year-old girl says she was pepper sprayed by officers as she stood outside the barber shop with her mom. By the time the confrontation was over, four people were arrested.

"The police, in my opinion, were extremely restrained under very difficult circumstances,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said last week. “Unfortunately, some of the people involved in that incident, put their hands on the police.”

Newsham also denied that police used an undercover officer in the June 13 incident and made no apologies for their tactics.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Anthony Lorenzo Green, who has been vocal about his concerns regarding police misconduct, said next week's roundtable is crucial.

"It's not right for officers, in the name of public safety, to come up to you, make you pull up your shirt, bend you down over the car however they want, and to violate your rights. It's not fair and should not be happening. That's the type of policing that should not be tolerated," said Green. "Any type of interaction with police where you walked out feeling violated, I want you to come out and share your story, whether you live in Ward 7 or Ward 8."

The July 12 roundtable is open to all residents. Allen's office said the committee will seek testimony on several topics related to policing and public safety, including community policing, stop and frisks, the use of force, de-escalation techniques and strategies, gun recovery tactics, policing public space, and police presence in the community.

“Community policing isn’t just a buzz word – it’s a culture shift that involves neighborhood residents in preventing crime and prioritizing safety concerns. But in order for community policing to work, we need trust between the community and law enforcement,” said Councilmember Allen. “While I hear from neighbors with positive interactions, I have also been carefully following a number of interactions between MPD officers and community members that undermine that trust and are deeply painful for those involved. I hope to create a space where residents can feel comfortable coming forward to share their experiences.”

The roundtable will have both a morning and afternoon session.

The morning session will include government testimony, including representatives from the Metropolitan Police Department. It will take place July 12 at 9:30 a.m. at the John A. Wilson Building at 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

The afternoon session is set for 5 p.m. at the Deanwood Recreation Center at 1350 49th Street NE. Anyone wishing to testify during the roundtable can call 202-724-7808 or email judiciary@dccouncil.us

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