Prince George's Police Officers Uncomfortable About Gathering for Promotional Exams

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Hundreds of Prince George's County police officers will gather inside a high school this weekend to take the department's promotional exam, but many of them are not happy about it during a pandemic.

On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of Prince George's County Police officers will gather inside Wise High School for a promotional exam with hopes of moving up the ranks in the department.

“I want to test and I want to get promoted and I’m prepared to do that, but under these circumstances it's not safe for anyone,” said an officer who wished to remain anonymous.

The county's human resources department surveyed officers participating in this weekend's exam, and 58% said they were not comfortable taking the exam inside a building with more than 100 socially distanced people.

“Officers are still testing positive,” the anonymous officer said. “Within the last week, two officers that I know of personally have tested positive for COVID-19.”

“Why bother doing a survey if you're going to ignore the results of it?” attorney Lawrence Holzman asked.

Holzman represents a number of officers who passed the last exam but weren't promoted because the available slots were filled. 

“We already have a pool of already tested, perfectly vetted eligible candidates for the 15 or 20 open positions right now, and the agency can go ahead and promote people without doing testing in dangerous circumstances,” he said.

Last week, the county announced that it will remain in phase two and not advance into phase three with most of the state due to its COVID-19 numbers. That prohibits large indoor gatherings.

In a statement, the county health director said in part, “The number of registered participants for both Saturday and Sunday will not exceed 50% capacity. In addition, my office, in conjunction with appropriate agencies, spent weeks meticulously planning the safety protocols.”

News4 obtained the five-page document explaining safety protocols for the exam. In the first draft, it stated restrooms will not be disinfected after each use. A version released Friday says restrooms will be disinfected throughout the day.

Last-minute changes are making some officers uncomfortable with the process, knowing that if they don't test now, they'll have to wait another two years for the next exam.

Other Prince George's County agencies — including the fire department, jail and sheriff's office — have promotional exams planned for the fall but with fewer candidates than the police department. Each agency expects a few dozen participants.

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