GREENBELT, MD – Advocating for a strong package of reforms to address structural bias and serious racial discrimination and retaliation in the Prince George’s Police Department (PGPD), Black and Brown officers with the United Black Police Officers Association (UBPOA) and the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association (HNLEA) today announced 12 recommendations to the Task Force on Reforming the Prince George’s Police Department. The task force was established by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks following the release of an explosive expert witness report, written by a respected law enforcement leader, that detailed over two dozen instances where white PGPD officers engaged in racist conduct with no or minimal discipline, including for the use of racial epithets and other derogatory language or circulated offensive imagery.
Lt. Thomas Boone, President of the United Black Police Officers Association, said: “We are determined to see all the way through the changes needed to end racial discrimination within the Prince George’s Police Department, which needs much more than just replacing the chief in charge. We need a police force that has more diversity throughout the ranks and specialty units, that has a fair promotions system not filled with bias, and that is representative of the community it protects.”
In June, Mike Graham, a former assistant sheriff with the LA County Sheriff’s Office with significant U.S. Department of Justice experience, filed an expert witness report in federal court in Maryland in HNLEA vs. Prince George’s County that made clear what Black and Brown officers have been saying for years: PGPD has a pattern and practice of unconstitutional conduct. Following release of the report, Henry Stawinski, the white PGPD police chief under whose leadership Black and Brown officers experienced extensive discrimination in recent years, was forced to resign. In addition, the task force, chaired by Judge Maureen Lamasney and Delegate Alonzo Washington, was charged to make recommendations on hiring, training, and use of force in policing.
Ret. Cpt. Joe Perez, President of the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association, said: “Ending racial bias against Black and Brown officers within the Prince George’s Police Department goes hand in hand with better relationships in the community. Civilian complaints need to be taken seriously, and supervisors need to be held accountable for better monitoring of officer interactions with community members. And we can no longer allow policies and practices that turn a blind eye to racial profiling, which has been shamefully ignored by PGPD leadership for years.”
Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, said: “Fair, equitable, and effective policing requires that there is shared trust between police officers, their police department and the many and diverse communities that live in the county. A critical component of trust building is genuine engagement between the public and the department that begins with candor and transparency. The recommendations of the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association and the United Black Police Officers Association if seriously considered and addressed will be an important beginning to rebuilding trust between the Prince Georges County Police Department and communities that they serve.”
The groups make 12 key recommendations:
- Adoption of enhanced Affirmative Action Plan to make the force more representative of the community it serves.
- A residency requirement for PGPD leaders; incentives to live in PG County for rank-and-file officers.
- Enhanced monitoring and supervision of civilian interactions, including prohibiting consideration of race.
- Implementation of regular, targeted and random internal reviews and integrity audits.
- Adoption of specific promotion recommendations discussed by the Fairness Panel
- Improve diversity within “specialty units.”
- Adoption of officer-bystander intervention program to encourage officers to intervene to stop wrongful conduct by other officers.
- Strict enforcement of anti-retaliation and no contact provisions.
- Internal Affairs Division should be monitored and report on bias and discrimination in internal investigations and discipline.
- Revision of EEO complaint policy to ensure confidentiality and investigations conducted outside the chain of command.
- Mandatory annual anti-discrimination, anti-retaliation, anti-harassment and implicit bias training.
- Establish a new Office of Compliance headed by a senior, full-time Chief Compliance Officer.
The plaintiffs are represented by John Freedman, Adam Pergament, Mei-Wah Lee, and Preston Smith from Arnold & Porter; Jonathan Smith, Dennis Corkery, Joanna Wasik, and Tristin Brown from the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, and Deborah Jeon from the ACLU of Maryland.
Learn more online at: www.aclu-md.org or www.washlaw.org.