The Gay & Lesbian Activists Alliance is calling on the D.C. Council to reject a proposal by Mayor Vincent Gray to reduce the budget of the Office of Police Complaints, which investigates allegations of police abuse of citizens.
LGBT activists pushed for the creation of a police Civilian Complaint Review Board, which later became the Office of Police Complaints, in the 1970s at a time when allegations of police officer abuse of LGBT people surfaced more frequently than in recent years.
Gray’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal calls for reducing the OPC budget by just under $200,000, from $2,057,589 in fiscal year 2011 to $1,858,546 in fiscal year 2012.
Philip Eure, OPC’s executive director, told a City Council hearing on April 8 that the cuts – while appearing modest – would result in a reduction in the number of investigators that the office uses to look into allegations of police abuse of citizens.
“The value of this independent agency, which employs the best practices of citizen oversight of law enforcement, is reflected in the 5.8 percent increase in complaints and the 6.6 percent increase in case closings in Fiscal Year 2010 over the previous year,” said GLAA Vice President Rick Rosendall in a letter to the Council committee that oversees police issues.
“The result of OPC’s excellent work is not just the identification of areas for improvement or the adjudication of misconduct charges, but the confidence provided both to citizens and to the great majority of good officers that police misconduct complaints will receive impartial investigation and timely resolution,” Rosendall said.
Gray has said a severe city revenue shortfall due to the recession has forced him to propose cuts in many city agencies. The Council is scheduled to vote on the mayor’s budget later this year.