Law Enforcement and Community Mistrust
Two alarming incidents have recently come to the Amara Legal Center’s attention. The first concerns a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) lieutenant who was found to have alleged ties to a white supremacist organization, serious enough to rise to the level of involving federal officials. The second incident concerns a retired MPD officer, also a lieutenant, who was charged with sexual activity with a minor. More compelling is that the former lieutenant was head of the MPD’s LGBTQ liaison unit.
At the Amara Legal Center, we serve survivors of sex trafficking and indivudals who have been harmed significantly through their involvement within the commercial sex industry, whether their involvement is by force or by choice. Many within our client population have cried for support that goes unheard. They long for justice and equity, and particularly for lives that are free from stigma, violence and oppression. Many individuals in our client population often encounter police officers, whether they are seeking protection, reporting crimes or getting criminalized themselves.
Our mission to provide trauma-informed services informs the need to advocate for an end to institutional and systemic patterns of violence. We strive to facilitate access to vital legal and social services to survivors, trainings for different industries, and advocacy initiatives for sound public policies that benefit our client population in order to provide them with the sense of safety and respect they deserve. We follow our value of aiming to reduce violence against individuals in the commercial sex industry and obtain justice for their victimization. In providing trauma-informed care, Amara recognizes how inherently-instituted police misconduct can be trauma-inflicting.
These recent events in the news are mere reminders of the institutional and systematic misuse of power that can exist within law enforcement ranks across the country, and even right here, in the DC-metro area. Historically, the institution has not always played by the rules, engaging in police brutality, including excessive physical violence and the unjustified killings of Black people. This also comes at a time when the media has recently reported findings that the MPD has taken lightly incidents of criminal police misconduct, including incidents of officers committing domestic assault.
The patterns of problematic and systematic police misconduct ultimately creates community police mistrust. This leaves victims of violence and abuse often questioning what means of protection they can seek and where they can go without fearing criminalization or police brutality. It warrants the continued discussion on the merits of MPD’s budget of over half a billion dollars per year that could allow for the reallocation of portions of the budgeted funds to be redirected to violence interrupting programs and mental affirming care.
Blog author: Rani Allan, Amara Intern.