Community Activists Call for Transparency in Prince George's Police Oversight

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Demonstrators circled the Prince George's County executive's office building Thursday calling for transparency in police oversight.

The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in its 2021 session requiring the creation of police accountability boards.

Some Prince George’s County residents who testified before the state legislature helping create sweeping police reform throughout Maryland are questioning how Prince George's County is implementing new state requirements for improving law enforcement.

“We’re simply saying, ‘County executive, let's do it right,’” said Dawn Dalton, cofounder of the JustUs Initiative.

The Maryland General Assembly now requires law enforcement agencies to have police accountability boards made up of community members. The state provided a basic framework, but the rest is up to each locality.

“It's the work of the people that we want to get done not how they want it to get done without our input,” said Tamara McKinney, cofounder of Concerned Citizens for Bail Reform.

Earlier this month, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks tweeted asking interested people to submit resumes, leading some to wonder what happened to the rest of the process.

“For Prince George’s County to just recruit for a board that has no structure around it and no one really knows what's really going on, that just seams haphazard,” said Beverly John of Maryland Coalition for Justice and Police Accountability.

In Calvert County, there have been public meetings for creating the board that allowed community input before discussing appointments.

That’s what activists like Nikki Owens want in Prince George's County. 

“My cousin William Green is a prime example of why rushing this is a poor choice,” Nikki Owens said.

Prince George's County police Cpl. Michael Owen is charged with shooting and killing Green. Owen pleaded not guilty. He has a long history of questionable actions that appeared to have gone unchecked, and additional lawsuits have been filed against him and the county.

“Basically, this man did all of his crimes as a police officer, so he gets away with it,” Owens said. “My cousin wasn't the first person he's killed.”

Alsobrooks says the county is ahead on police reform because of its task force that reviewed its department two years ago.

“Prince George’s is ahead of all of those counties, and we have a task force that we formed in 2020, so we are not behind anybody in terms of working on this issue,” she said.

The county executive's office says it's drafting legislation for the board that will require a public hearing and there will also be public hearings for each board appointment as well.

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