In early 2009, the Partnership for Civil Justice filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court in the hopes that the D.C. Police Department would get its act together and comply with a very basic FOIA request. What did the civil rights lawyers want?
They wanted the D.C. Police to cough up their operational procedures and general orders. In other words, just the rules on how the police are supposed to govern themselves, and utilize their authority with the general public. The complaint stated:
“Public disclosure of the operational policies and practices, orders and staff instructions of the police department is essential for policing in a democratic society and to establish accountability….The D.C. FOIA mandates that the MPD specifically make public and make available upon demand its policies, procedures, manuals and staff instructions….Additionally the MPD is required to publish a general index of all such records unless the materials are promptly published and copies offered for sale.”
Today, the Partnership announced that the D.C. Police Department has finally complied with the FOIA.
The Partnership had filed its lawsuit in early February. That’s months of stonewalling. Anyway, now you can read the department’s general orders and operational directives for yourself.
The Partnership has put the documents online. It’s an invaluable resource that will help the public better understand how the police operate. And that’s a good thing.
3:35 p.m. Update: City Desk reached Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder and attorney with the Partnership.
“It’s finally time that they begin to come into compliance. They are not in compliance because we don’t have everything yet.” She adds that the D.C. Police Department should post all its regs on its own website.