FY21 Budget Testimony Guidelines and Talking Points

by Stop Police Terror Project and SURJ DC

Judiciary Chair Charles Allen has rescheduled the MPD budget hearing and added an additional hearing to hear direct public testimony. This only means that your pressure on the Council is working and we need to keep it up. To do that, we need you to keep telling the Judiciary Committee your stories. We need to ensure that all DC residents are heard and that Charles Allen does his job and confronts MPD Chief Peter Newsham on his department's record of brutality towards Black communities in DC.

We’d also encourage you to submit your testimony as a 3-minute video as opposed to just a written document. Videos let the committee see the person behind the testimony, and you can also share them publicly on social media for a much wider reach (make sure to use the hashtag #DefundMPD so we can see them, and tag @StopCopTerrorDC and @SURJ_DC) Testimony submitted via voicemails and email still definitely helps, however, plus you can also supplement a voicemail or video with written testimony.

Please also tweet at, email, and call the members of the Judiciary Committee (Charles Allen, Anita Bonds, Vince Gray, Mary Cheh) and all the DC councilmembers. Tell them why DC must #DivestfromMPD and #DefundMPD.

Basic testimony guide

  • Introduce yourself, include your full name and how it’s spelled
  • Say why this matters to you
  • State your demand
  • Additional police and funding for police will not enhance public safety in the District and will actually make us less safe, we must reprioritize where we put our money.
  • Expand on the demand: The problem is harm done by the MPD and community violence especially homicides (see below for details)
  • Expand on the demand: The solutions are reallocating MPD funds to pay for non-police resources (see below for details)

The problems

The MPD continues to inflict harm:

Police officers’ refusal to wear PPE consistently to protect the public from COVID-19

Stop-and-frisk is still being practiced in DC

MPD officers have abused and assaulted children. When three children were detained and frisked by numerous MPD officers, MPD first tried to charge $5,000 to release footage from officers' body cameras and then refused to release it at all

MPD officers killed three Black men over a 5-week span in 2018 and we still don't know the officers' names or whether they are back on duty 

  • D'Quan Young - shot by an off duty officer who, WJLA reported, sprayed bullets wildly just outside a rec center where lots of people were present
  • Marqueese Alston - a father shot in an alley the night before Father's Day, and his body was left for hours.
  • Jeff Price - chased and blockaded on his motorcycle by a police cruiser, then run down.

Violence, especially gun violence continues to rise despite more and more police:

Homicides continue to increase despite the MPD budget growing every year and more and more officers on the streets

Stop-and-frisk in DC fails at finding illegal weapons, the last 5 months of data showed a “hit rate” of finding weapons at barely 1 percent.

From an initial look at the MPD operating budget funding for MPD has been increased by 18.5 million–a large amount even if we weren’t entering a pandemic-induced economic crisis. This takes the MPD budget to nearly $580 million, well over half a billion.

Some areas that the policy budget money is going to include:

  • Funding for even more police officers, despite DC already having more officers per capita than almost anywhere else in the country
  • Seventeen additional school resource officers (or police officers who work in schools)
  • Additional funding for unspecified work with Homeland Security
  • Additional funding to the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division (NSID), an extremely violent division of the MPD that operates with almost no accountability.

(To make matters worse, one of the only areas of the MPD budget that appears to have been cut is its office in charge of responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, one of the few ways the MPD is accountable to the public.)

At the same time violence prevention programs in DC, which already made up a tiny percentage of the DC budget, have been cut significantly, including $800,000 taken from the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), $1.4 million cut from the Roving Leaders program and what seems to be the elimination of the Cure the Streets program.

The solutions:

This is not just about MPD getting increased funding while specific programs get cut, however. It’s about the need to radically shift our priorities. We don’t just want to halt increases to the MPD’s bloated budget, we want to defund it and shift that money toward non-police resources that actually make us safer. These include:

  • Maintaining and increasing funding for the Office of Neighborhood and Safety Engagement and violence interrupter programs.
  • Reallocating funding from the MPD budget to pay for medical and mental health professionals and social workers to respond to emergency calls.
  • Cutting funding for school resource officers and reallocating that funding to pay for  mental health care and trauma-informed services in DC public schools, along with technological support for remote learning. (Please see the end of this document for more information about police-free schools)
  • Increased services for formerly incarcerated DC residents including housing, education, and job assistance.
  • Maintaining a permanent budget item for public housing repairs.  This year, the council should put $60 million to repair public housing.
  • Increasing the availability of high-quality childcare.
  • Maintaining and increasing funding for vital nutrition and food access programs.
  • Suspending rent and mortgage payments in DC until the COVID-19 crisis is over
  • Providing COVID-19 relief funding to all DC residents, including undocumented residents.

Just a third of the current MPD budget could fund many of these programs for years – think how much housing could be built with 190 million, or people fed, how many school counselors and nurses could be hired.

To submit your testimony

Upload a 3-minute video of your testimony to the Judiciary Committee's Dropbox via this link 

Submit voicemail testimony to the Committee’s GoogleVoice number at (202) 350-1362.

Email written testimony to judiciary@dccouncil.us 

Additional resources

More information on testimony submission and process

Full DC budget

Activists push for tax increases, more child care spending in D.C. budget

DCFPI budget priorities

Fair Budget Coalition FY21 report

DC Tenants Union Cancel Rent campaign

The Pandemic Is the Right Time to Defund the Police

No More Money for the Police (NYT piece that specifically mentions DC’s violence interrupter program as a good alternative to policing that needs more funding)

Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police by Mariame Kaba