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Councilmember Robert White Introduces Legislation to Study Bias in how Law Enforcement Assess Threats for Protests

With the growing threat of homegrown domestic terrorism in the United States—often white supremacist affiliated— Councilmember Robert White introduced legislation today that would mandate the Office of the Attorney General to conduct a study to examine bias—conscious or unconscious—in the Metropolitan Police Department’s threat assessments.

Citing the differences in the preparation for and responses to the Black Lives Matter protests last summer and the attempted coup on January 6, Councilmember White says that biased threat assessments have long been a problem for people of color, but it has now become a homeland security threat. 

“If you think that American terrorists won’t do the same things as terrorist cells around the world, then we are very unprepared for what’s on the horizon for the next year,” said Councilmember White. “For years, biased threat assessments have endangered people of color. On January 6th, though, biased threat assessments left the United States Capitol and the District of Columbia vulnerable to a deadly insurrection by homegrown extremists.”

The “Bias in Threat Assessments Evaluation Amendment Act of 2021” will allow Attorney General Karl Racine to gather statistics about civilian injuries, arrests, fatalities, and the number of officers deployed for assemblies that took place between January 2017 and January 2021. The data will be used to analyze the extent to which bias played a role in MPD’s assessments of threats, and inform the District’s vulnerability to future attacks by homegrown extremists.

While MPD does not have jurisdiction over the Capitol grounds, White sent a letterto US Senator Gary Peters, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs and Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security requesting they hold hearings on national homeland security vulnerabilities arising from bias in threat assessments.

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