- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

A former Justice Department official has been named the independent monitor of the Metropolitian Police Department just as the force, which has received complaints of excessive force in the past, prepares for massive protests later this month.

Michael R. Bromwich, a former inspector general, has been appointed to examine the department's use-of-force incidents and its efforts to prevent civil rights violations. He was selected by the Justice Department and the police department to head a team to look at the department's policies and training over the next five years.

D.C. police officials said a rough road of reform lies ahead and Mr. Bromwich is a welcome addition to the effort.

"Our department remains firmly committed to the reforms contained in the agreement with the Justice Department and, in fact, has already begun to implement many changes in our use-of-force policies and practices," said police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. "Mr. Bromwich has a reputation for being tough but fair. That's exactly what we were looking for."

Mr. Bromwich joins the reform effort as police prepare for protests involving four different groups beginning April 20: Anti-globalization activists will rally against the annual meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund; college students will protest the war in Afghanistan; Palestinian-rights supporters will demonstrate against aid to Israel; and global-justice activists will rally for ending violations in Colombia.

Police officials estimate that the number of protesters could reach 20,000 and say they are planning to handle the demonstrations as they have in the past few years.

"We want to take the same honed approach of accommodating and facilitating First Amendment rights with the right to go to a meeting or not have a brick thrown at your window," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. "We are preparing [for trouble], but are hoping that in a post-September 11 milieu, people will embrace a peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights."

Chief Gainer said his officers were less "jittery" these days than during the first protests in April 2000, when protesters and police scuffled and hundreds of protesters were arrested. In a pending lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, some protesters said police used excessive force and violated civil rights.

Mr. Bromwich, a partner in the D.C. law firm of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson, will head a team of lawyers who will review the department's use-of-force incidents. The team will include three other Fried Frank lawyers Matt Morley, Mark Stein and Jonathan Aronie.

The accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers, as well as police officials from Oakland, Calif., and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., also will serve on the team.

"Making sure that law enforcement personnel respect the civil rights and civil liberties of our citizens is a core value of our society and a core principle of policing," Mr. Bromwich said. "There is an attitude in the [police leadership] of an intolerance of improper conduct and abuse of civilian rights. This is an opportunity to help."

Chief Ramsey and Mayor Anthony A. Williams asked the Justice Department for help after a high number of police shootings in 1999.

In June, the District reached an agreement with Justice, designed to help the police department address deficiencies identified during an investigation conducted by Justice's Civil Rights Division. The agreement provides for the independent monitor to review the implementation of reforms agreed to by the police department.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide