Advocacy Coalition Supports MPD Clarification of Condom Policy

For Immediate Release:

March 13, 2013

Contacts:

Rebekah Horowitz, The Women’s Collective, (202) 483-7003
Cyndee Clay, HIPS, (202) 232-8150 x307
Paola Barahona, DC Appleseed, (202) 289-8007, x19
Darby Hickey, DC Trans Coalition, (202) 250-4869
William McColl, AIDS United, (202) 408-4848
Megan McLemore, Human Rights Watch, (646) 784-4827


Washington, DC -- The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is taking steps to educate the community and police officers about the possession of condoms – they are not to be considered reasonable cause to stop, search, or arrest someone. In addition to clarifying Department policy via police “roll call” bulletin, MPD, thanks to the advocacy work of a coalition of DC-based local and national organiizations, has begun to distribute cards in the community explaining that individuals have the right to carry as many condoms as they want in the District of Columbia, . The card text reads:

Know Your Rights

  • The MPD supports the distribution of condoms to help prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Individuals are allowed to carry as many condoms as they want. There is no “three condom rule.”
  • MPD officers cannot conduct a stop or conduct a search of a person or premises based on whether or not that person possesses condoms.

The card also provides information on how to make complaints of police misconduct, in the case that an officer fails to follow these guidelines. Click here to see the card.

“This important development will help promote condom use in the District, where we have one of the highest rates of HIV in the country,” said Rebekah Horowitz, Policy and Advocacy Manager at The Women’s Collective.

Last July, Human Rights Watch released research that documented instances of police confiscating condoms or threatening to use the safe sex materials as evidence of criminal activity, primarily prostitution. By distributing these cards, MPD clarifies that the police support public health interventions and will not interfere with condom possession and distribution.

“We often hear from community members that they believe possession of more than three condoms can be grounds for arrest,” said Cyndee Clay, Executive Director of HIPS. “The MPD’s statements put the myth of the ‘three condom rule’ to rest and make clear the process for reporting police officers who violate the condom possession policy.”

The new development came in response to calls for clarification on MPD policy from a coalition of HIV/AIDS, advocacy, and service organizations. The coalition, which thanked the MPD for providing the clarification, includes The Women’s Collective, HIPS, DC Appleseed, DC Trans Coalition, AIDS United, and Human Rights Watch.

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