CM Allen on MPD Vehicle Pursuit Policy, Traffic Enforcement, & SE Library

CM Charles Allen visits ANC6B’s April meeting Tuesday night.

CM Allen on MPD Vehicle Pursuit Policy, Traffic Enforcement, & SE Library

by Larry Janezich

Posted April 13, 2023

CM Charles Allen continued his spring visits to Ward 6 ANCs Tuesday night, briefing the ANC6B on the Mayor’s Budget, now under consideration by the Council, and discussing his priorities as Chair of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. That part of the presentation mirrored his remarks before ANC6A last month as reported on Capitol Hill Corner, here:

During the Q&A Allen responded to specific questions from Commissioners on issues concerning residents of ANC6B. 

  • On restrictions on MPD vehicular pursuit: Commissioner Chander Jayaraman asked Allen about the widely distributed Twitter video of a carjacking of a jeep near the Ballpark on March 29, as several MPD officers and a squad car on site were unable to stop the theft and who failed to pursue.  Jayaraman suggested the failure to pursue was due to the Law Enforcement Vehicular Pursuit Reform Act of 2021 and wondered if there was any thought being given to providing more support so officers can actually do their jobs.

Allen replied that he thought Jayaraman was referring to a bill that had been introduced, not one that the Council had passed.  He said that “nothing the City Council has passed prohibits MPD from being able to do a vehicle chase if they believe there’s a crime taking place.  MPD has its own internal policy around chases.”  Allen said, “I have heard many times where somebody says the council voted to tell somebody to do that or the council has tied their hands.  That’s not true – it doesn’t mean people don’t say it though.” 

Jayaraman said that it would be appropriate, then, “for the ANC6B Public Safety Task Force to ask what MPD’s policy is, and what happened there.” 

  • On traffic enforcement. Commissioner Matt La Fortune asked Allen for an update, following CM Henderson’s presentation to the 6B Transportation on this subject last week and her skepticism about moving a bill to toughen traffic enforcement.   

Allen said that he and Henderson along with CM Cheh were frustrated last year in their efforts to address this issue when they tried to move an amendment providing for loss of license for individuals with numerous serious traffic violations.  Allen said, “We were unsuccessful…and  lost the vote significantly.”  His plan, he said, is to hold a hearing later this spring with no preconceived answers to help build a stronger coalition which he says he thinks will be more successful than the approach taken last year.

Allen added that the Mayor’s Budget would repeal the law which directs revenue from fines from automated traffic enforcement cameras to go back into traffic safety.  Instead, those funds would be used to balance the budget.  He says residents are unhappy with traffic cameras and it’s harder to justify cameras to them if the funds don’t go to traffic safety.  Allen says that will be difficult to undo but he is looking at ideas to claw back funds to be used for safer streets. 

In a follow up on the subject from Commissioner Frank Avery, Allen said that on Monday, DOT revealed their plan to double the number of automated traffic cameras by the end of summer.  In addition, the 136 cameras currently operating will be replaced with new technology.  Allen is trying to work with the CFO and DOT to figure out how incoming revenue can be redirected toward safety efforts. 

(Later in the meeting the ANC unanimously agreed to a Resolution which, among other items, urged the city to make the primary goal of traffic enforcement prevention of dangerous driving, rather than raising revenue; tying non-financial penalties to traffic violations; negotiate with VA and MD on reciprocity agreements to hold non-safe drivers accountable; and to take proactive measures against drivers with the most significant traffic violations.)

  • On interim services for SE Library: Commissioner Sobelsohn referenced the SE Library Task Force reps meeting with Allen on April 21st  and announced that four ANC6B Commissioners, along with Commissioners from Ward 8 and possibly Ward 7, plus a representative from Capitol Hill Village would testify in support of funding for interim services before the Budget Committee meeting this Thursday.  In response Allen suggested that clearly laying out the communities’ priorities for interim services and defining what the needs are would be the most effective and persuasive line of testimony. 

(Later in the meeting, the Commission unanimously approved sending a letter to all members of the city council urging their assistance for interim services for the SE Library.) 

  • DC Circulator: In other business, the Commission unanimously agreed to send a letter to the City Council stressing the importance of the service provided by the DC Circulator Route from Eastern Market Metro to L’Enfant Plaza.  The Mayor’s Budget would terminate the route and the letter urged urges the Council to keep it. 

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