New evidence was revealed in a civil lawsuit that some police officers have filed against the Prince George's County Police Department.
The department has submitted hundreds of pages of emails and internal records in response to the civil suit filed by more than a dozen of the department’s officers represented by Dennis Corkery of the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. The suit alleges retaliation and unfair discipline practices against officers of color.
After an ongoing court battle, some of the evidence was unredacted.
According to the Maryland ACLU, the documents show Black and Brown officers are twice as likely to have sustained disciplinary charges as white officers and more likely to be terminated. Senior leadership of the department actively worked to conceal officer discipline records of white officers.
Since 2018, Prince George's County has paid more than $6.3 million to Venable LLP, a private Baltimore law firm.
“As the county executive of this county, I am required to answer the county's liabilities, and so when there are lawsuits, we are required to answer the lawsuit,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said last month.
Alsobrooks created a Prince George's County police reform task force. Maryland Del. Alonzo Washington is a co-chair.
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“The county executive has given us the authority to look at everything within the police department to transform this police department to look at and rethink policing and public safety within our county overall,” he said.
A day after the attorneys for the officers released an independent report supporting claims of retaliation and unfair discipline practices, Chief Hank Stawinski stepped down.
“This is not just about Chief Stawinski,” Corkery said. “This is about a department that built systems to ensure racist policing and to ensure that officers of color are not treated in the same way as white officers.”
The police reform task force is expected to have its completed report delivered to the county executive no later than Oct. 30.
Alsobrooks sent provided a statement reading in part quote, “I have the responsibility to defend lawsuits against the county. We look forward to resolving this, in a court of law, in a way that is fair to the county and fair to the parties involved.”
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the Prince George's County Police Department in a complaint alleging discrimination and retaliation. More than 100 officers signed onto that complaint.