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Police Complaint Board MPD-Bicyclist Report & Recs

Police Complaint Board MPD-Bicyclist Report & Recs

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Published by: tonalblue on Sep 29, 2011
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09/29/2011

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IMPROVINGTHESAFETYOFBICYCLISTSANDENHANCINGTHEIRINTERACTIONSWITHMETROPOLITANPOLICEDEPARTMENTOFFICERS
REpORTANDRECOMMENDATIONSOFTHE
POLICECOMPLAINTSBOARD
TOMAYORVINCENTC.GRAY,
THE
COUNCILOFTHEDISTRICTOFCOLUMBIA,ANDCHIEFOFPOLICECATHYL.LANIERSeptember29,2011POLICECOMPLAINTSBOARDKurtVorndran,ChairAssistantChiefPatrickA.BurkeKarlM.FraserMargaretA.Moore
1400IStreet,NW,Suite700Washington,DC20005(202)727
K
 
Table
ofContentsI.INTRODUCTIONANDOVERVIEW1II.POLICIESANDPRACTICESATISSUE2A.MPDInvestigationofBicycle-MotorVehicleCrashes2
B.
MPDTrainingonBicycleRegulations2C.TheDistrict'sBicycleAdvisoryCouncilandMPD'sInvolvement..3
IlL
COMPLAINTSFILEDWITHOPC
.4
IV.POLICYCONCERNS4A.MPDInvestigationofBicycle-MotorVehicleCrashes4
B.
MPDTrainingonBicycleRegulations5C.LackofCommunicationBetweenMPDOfficersandBicyclists6V.BESTPRACTICES'"7
A.
BicycleCrashReportsinOtherJurisdictions7B.ExemplarBicycleAdvisoryGroups7VI.RECOMMENDATIONS8
 
I.INTRODUCTIONANDOVERVIEW
InFebruaryofthisyear,theCounciloftheDistrictofColumbia'sCommitteeonPublicSafetyandtheJudiciaryheardandreceivedtestimonyatapublichearingonthetopicofpoliceenforcementofpedestrianandbicyclesafetylaws.
I
Arecurringthemethroughoutthetestimony,andinnumerousformalandinformalcomplaintsreceivedbytheOfficeofPoliceComplaints(OPC),wasthatfurthertrainingofMetropolitanPoliceDepartment(MPD)officersinthebodyoflawrelatedtobicyclinginthecitywouldbebeneficialbothtothecommunityandtoMPD.TheexecutivedirectoroftheWashingtonAreaBicyclistAssociation(WABA)testifiedatthehearingthatsomepersistentproblemsareineffectiveinvestigationbyMPDofficersofbicyclist-motorvehiclecrashes,lackofadequatetrainingforMPDofficersonlawsapplicabletobicyclists,andofficerreticencetoenforcetheprohibitionagainstvehiculardriversstopping,standing,orparkinginbike
lanes.i
Judgingfromthetestimonyatthehearing,thereisalsoabeliefthatsomeofficersmaintainpro-motoristbiasesduetoaperceptionthatsomebicyclistsrecklesslyendangerthemselvesandthelivesofothersbyopenlyfloutingtrafficIaws.'Toaddresstheseconcerns,thePoliceComplaintsBoard(PCB)makesthefollowingrecommendationstobetterprotectbicyclistsandimproveMPDinteractionwiththebicyclingcommunity.First,MPDshouldchangeitsmethodofinvestigatingbicycle-motorvehiclecrashesinordertoprovideappropriatesafeguardsforbicyclistswhoareinjured.Currently,itappearsthatsomeMPDofficersarenotinterviewinginjuredbicyclistswhoaretakentothehospital,probablyduetotheDepartment'sinternalwrittenpolicyrequiringofficerstocompletecrashinvestigationreportsbeforetheendoftheirshifts.Accordingly,MPDshouldreviseitsdirectivetopermitofficerstoleavecrashinvestigationsopenuntilallnecessarystatementshavebeenobtainedsothatpartiesinvolvedcanbeinterviewedpriortothereport'scompletion.Theofficercompletingthereportshouldalsodocumentthereasonsforanymissingstatements.Inaddition,topromotebetterinvestigationofbicycle-motorvehicleaccidents,thetrafficcrashreportform,knownasaPDForm10,shouldcontainmorebicycle-specificcriteria,sothatinformationpertainingtobicycle-motorvehiclecollisionscanbemoreeasilyidentifiableandanalyzed.Second,MPDshouldbettertrainofficersontheapplicablebicyclinglawsinordertopreventanddispelclaimsthatofficersareneglectingtoenforcetrafficlawsdirectlyaffectingbicyclistsandincorrectlycitingthemforbehaviorsthatarelegaLPCBrecommendsrevisingthecurrentcurriculumusedtoteachbike-relatedregulationswiththeinputoflocalcyclingadvocacygroups.Third,toaddressconcernsabouttensionandmisunderstandingbetweenbicyclistsandpoliceofficers,MPDshouldincreaseitsparticipationintheDistrict'sBicycleAdvisoryCouncil(BAC),ataskforceestablishedbyDistrictlawtoadvisetheMayor,theCounciloftheDistrictof
EnforcementofPedestrianandBicycleSafetyBeforetheCommitteeontheJudiciary.
CouncilPeriod19(D.C.201I)[hereinafter
Hearing].
2
ld.
3
Seeid.Seealso
Editorial,
BicyclistsarewelcomeinD.
C,
butthey,too.shouldobeythelaw.
Wash.Post.(May1,2011).http://www.washingtonpost.comlopinionslbicyclists-are-welcome-in-dc-but-they-too-should-obey-the-lawI2011/04/29/AFHIexUF_story.html(discussingtheaccusationsoffaultexchangedbetweendriversandmotorists);JamesJoyner.
DCTrafficGuide,
OutsidetheBeltway(Aug.13,2010),hUp://www.outsidethebeltway.comldc-traffic-guide(describingtheperceptionsofbicyclistsandmotoristsinWashington,D.C.);ShaneFarthing,
Resolve.tosetthestageforevenstrongeradvocacyin2011,
WashingtonAreaBicycleAssociation(Dec.22,2010),hUp:/lwww.waba.org/blog/2010112/resolve-Io-set-the-stage-for-even-stronger-advocacy-in-20l1(notingtheperceptionofbicyclistsas"scofflaws").

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