Do D.C.’s Police Have an Extremism Problem?


The Lamond indictment comes during a season of high-profile scrutiny of local law enforcement in Washington. In House Oversight Committee hearings, legislators have taken turns lambasting city officials and the U.S. attorney for allegedly soft-on-crime policies. For the first time in three decades, Congress also used its prerogative to overturn a duly enacted city law, nixing a rewrite of D.C.’s criminal code.

For their part, D.C. officials have denounced the congressional meddling as undemocratic, bad-faith grandstanding, saying Congress should mind its own business and let Washingtonians handle local affairs just like other Americans.

The congressional agitation has not, however, focused on whether the city’s police department is home to a troubling number of insurrectionist sympathizers. Given the makeup of D.C.’s top Hill critics, this may not be surprising: The leader of the effort to overturn that criminal-code rewrite was Andrew Clyde, the Georgia congressman who once likened Jan. 6 rioters to folks making a “normal tourist visit” to the Capitol.

Instead, members took aim at another measure recently passed by the D.C. Council, a police-accountability bill that codifies some of the reform policies put in place following the 2020 protests against police brutality. Among other things, that’s the bill that finally orders the D.C. auditor’s study of white supremacist ties within the force. Congress voted to overturn that one, too.

Unlike with the prior congressional disapproval, though, President Joe Biden has vowed to veto this effort, which means the mandatory investigation is going to be law.

As far as I’m concerned, a real investigation can’t come a minute too soon. The idea of even a small number of domestic extremists on the force ought to be terrifying — both to federal-Washington folks worried about the security of national institutions and to hometown-D.C. folks who think safe neighborhoods require citizens to feel able to cooperate with police, something that’s tougher if there’s even a slight suspicion that officers may be part of a hate group.

“I am surprised about Shane, but I’m not surprised about this culture because we’ve seen this in other departments across the country,” Donnell Harvin, D.C.’s former homeland security chief, told me. Harvin used to meet weekly with Lamond and says the allegation of alerting Tarrio to his arrest — if true — is far over the line. “I know men and women of the D.C. police department and they’re dedicated to the job. But we definitely need to study this. Congress should commission a study.”