The Prince George’s County executive has proposed taking $20 million that was intended for a police training facility and instead using it to build a new mental health care facility.
County Executive Angela Alsobrooks introduced sweeping police reforms Tuesday during a virtual County Council meeting.
“What we know is that 70 percent of the people who are arrested in Prince George’s County arrive to our Department of Corrections intoxicated, and a third of the individuals who come through our jail are suffering from a mental health issue,” she said.
“It’s wrong to treat mentally ill and addicted people in jail, and we must preserve the dignity of these individuals," Alsobrooks continued. "For this reason, I am realigning resources to ensure a vulnerable population of our community has access to the help they need from medical professionals and not police officers, who are not equipped to deal with that population.”
The change is expected to be added to bond legislation that residents will vote on in November.
Alsobrooks also proposed psych exams for officers, an additional community advisory board, a working group for fair treatment and transparency, more promotions for minority officers and incentives for more officers to live in the county.
Police Chief Hank Stawinski said the department is responding better to allegations of police violence.
“A lot of the issues we are seeing across the country are not in Prince George’s County and are predicated on a lack of visibility and transparency,” he said.
Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker brought up the case of Demonte Ward-Blake. The 24-year-old was partially paralyzed after an incident with police in October 2019. The department has more work to do, Anderson-Walker said.
“We are not light years ahead of anybody. We have issues,” she said.