Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw announced his retirement Friday after more than 30 years with the department. Deputy Police Chief Hank Stawinski was made interim chief with the expectation he will fill the job permanently.
Magaw was promoted to another top job in county government. Effective immediately, Magaw will serve as director of all public safety in the county, County Executive Rushern Baker announced at a ceremony Friday. Magaw's new role includes oversight of the fire department, homeland security, the jail and the sheriff’s department.
"The last five years have really been the honor of my life to be the chief of police here," Magaw said. "When you spend a large part of your life, over 50 percent of your life, with one family, doing one job, when it comes to an end, it makes you pause a minute."
For well over a decade, the Prince George’s county police department was in turmoil, with Justice Department oversight, low morale, and ever-changing leadership paired with high crime rates that plagued the county. But five years ago, things quickly changed with the appointment of Magaw. Under his leadership, the county saw historic lows in crime rates, including homicides. He served in national leadership roles and helped changed the reputation of the department.
"We are not an occupying force, we are guardians in this community," he said Friday.
Stawinski said he's honored to take the reins.
"The community can rely on our continued engagement, our continued hard work and respect for their perspectives, and we live that, as opposed to talking about it," he said.
Another deputy police chief, Genovia "G.G." Wittington, will move to the head of homeland security for the county, and Baker announced additional shifts in duties within the administration.
"One of the things I’ve tried to do is when we find talented people in the government is to keep them here," Baker said.
Stawinski held his young daughter as he discussed his new role.
"This is the greatest privilege for my professional life. I can't tell you what it means to be asked to be responsible for the safety of this community," he said. "I grew up here. My father served this department"
He said citizens can expect the stability they’ve seen within the department, with a continued focus on fighting crime.