The task force created by the Prince George’s County executive to examine how the police department could improve voted on its recommendations Tuesday night.
The task force looked at hiring practices and diversity.
“What are the things that are actually keeping Black people, in a county that’s predominantly Black, from being hired?” asked Sonia Pruitt, past president of the National Black Police Association.
Things like prior marijuana use disqualifies some candidates. The committee recommended removing that disqualifier after some debate.
"If marijuana ultimately is legalized, then we’re talking about, it’s a different story, but it hasn't been at this point, so anyone who consumes marijuana is part of a very violent drug trade," said Donnell Turner of the Office of Inspector General.
“About 400 of them every year are eliminated because these applicants are being honest about their usage and past history of usage over three years, over a three-year timespan, and a majority of those are African American applicants,” said Del. Alonzo Washington, task force co-chair.
The committee also recommended creating incentives for officers to live in the community they serve, prohibit hiring officers who have been fired from other departments, and requiring mental health screening before and after hiring.
As for officers in schools, the task force suggested taking away their arresting powers, equipping them with body cameras, having them in plain clothes and consider phasing them out eventually, using their funding for mental health resources in schools.
The task force also approved increasing the number of community officers from 4% to 25% of the total force.
"We are trying to move away from status quo, and that really would because if you're looking at the principles behind community policing, it's a different mindset, and that mindset is what we are trying to expand in the police department," Citizens Complaint Oversight Panel Chair Florence Felix-Lawson said.
The task force is going to compile all of its recommendations in a report for County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to review no later than Dec. 4.