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What is Nix The 6? Understanding Calls for Police Reform and Its Impact on DC Police

2020 was a tumultuous year for the United States, and not only because of the coronavirus pandemic. Discussions regarding race and police brutality came to a head as reports of dozens of African American citizens killed during confrontations with police made national headlines. These incidents—which come on the heels of decades of important progress within the civil rights movement—inspired protests, activism, and calls for police reform and defunding across the country. 

Campaign Zero is a project of the non-profit organization We The Protesters which aims to eliminate police violence in America. In 2015, Campaign zero launched The Police Union Contract—the first-of-its-kind public database of police union contracts and police bill of rights laws. The goal: to raise public awareness about these policies, understand the challenges of upholding police accountability, and work “with organizers in cities across the country to re-negotiate these contracts, challenge these laws, and repeal language that blocks police from being held accountable for misconduct.”

As an extension of The Police Union Contract, Campaign Zero recently launched an initiative known as Nix The 6. Learn more about this initiative and how these efforts have impacted the Metropolitan Police Department in the District. 

What is Nix the 6?

Nix The 6 (#NixThe6) is a public initiative that releases analyses of police union contracts from almost 600 American cities.

Police union contracts are working legal contracts between a city and its police department. They are public record and made available via city and state government websites (you can find a copy of Washington DC’s current police union contract here). Included in these contracts is information about how police officers can be investigated and disciplined in the event of misconduct, and what appeal processes officers have at their disposal when fighting disciplinary action or termination.

According to the Nix The 6 campaign, many American police union contracts contain at least six specific features that make it difficult to hold police officers accountable for misconduct. These include: 

  1. Destroying records of police misconduct
  2. Tossing out misconduct complaints
  3. Delaying or restricting the interrogation of officers
  4. Giving police officers unfair access to evidence
  5. Restricting disciplinary consequences
  6. Requiring communities to fund misconduct

 Currently, many American cities are in the process of re-negotiating union contracts with their police departments (police union contracts are typically renewed about every 3 to 4 years). Organizers and activists for police reform see this as an important opportunity to encourage policy and legislative changes that can address concerns of police violence, particularly as it relates to violence against black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). 

Policing by DC’s Metropolitan Police Department: Things to Know

Like law enforcement departments across the country, Washington DC’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been impacted by recent calls for reform, as well.To cite a few examples: 

  • In June 2020, the DC Council cut $15 million from Mayor Muriel Bowser’s MPD budget. This money was redirected to agencies supporting other services including neighborhood safety engagement, justice grants, and eviction assistance. The cut represented less than 2 percent of the MPD’s budget. 
  • June also saw the DC Council pass an emergency police reform that would, among other provisions, require body-camera footage to be made public more quickly after police shootings, impose limits on the use of deadly force by police officers, and prohibit the MPD from purchasing “military-style equipment from the federal government.” The reform delayed calls to shrink the District’s police force, however—there are currently 3,863 officers, detectives, and sergeants in the District’s police department.
  • In August 2020, the DC Police Union sued the District over a provision in the emergency police reform that would make it easier for the MPD chief to fire officers. As it stands, the reform prohibits the police union from negotiating with the MPD over disciplinary action for officers in labor negotiations, which the police union says are “reductions in our employee protections” and “a violation of our rights under the Constitution, particularly the guarantee of equal protection under the law to all citizens and groups.”

The MPD union contract expired in September 2020, though police contracts can remain in effect until new contracts are negotiated. Like union contracts from hundreds of other cities, the District’s MPD contract also comes under heavy scrutiny by Nix The 6. The organization asserts that this contract currently contains 4 of the 6 main methods of blocking accountability, including removal of misconduct records and giving police officers unfair access to information.

However the MPD’s union contract is interpreted and negotiated, one thing is clear:

Promoting effective policing, reducing racism, preventing crime, and making communities safer are critical issues facing all American cities, including Washington DC.

To learn more and get involved, Nix The 6 encourages individuals to explore:


Police Union Contract Project



D.C. Police Union Sues City For Restricting Bargaining Power Around Disciplinary Procedures


Police in the U.S. killed 164 Black people in the first 8 months of 2020. These are their names. (Part I: January-April)

The research is clear: White people are not more likely than Black people to be killed by police.

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