Update: Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski stepped down Thursday evening.
The leadership of the Prince George’s County Police Department is under fire after the ACLU held a press conference attacking the department's record on racial discrimination.
Officers from the department joined with police groups to call out what they call systemic racism within the department. One civil rights group is calling for Police Chief Hank Stawinski to step down.
An explosive new report filed in federal court Thursday alleges mistreatment of Black and brown Prince George’s County Police Department officers, a failure to fairly investigate allegations and a failure to support whistleblowers.
The 94-page report by a law enforcement veteran includes witness testimony, evidence naming officers and accounts of multiple incidents of harassment and discrimination. Many details were heavily redacted by the county.
The police department did not immediately comment on the report.
News4 exclusively interviewed a panel of PGPD officers alleging racial disparity in the department in 2018. The department enacted a mandatory implicit bias training course in conjunction with the University of Maryland to help address those issues. News4 exclusively reported on officers walking out of that class.
Today, the professor who helped create the class spoke out for the first time.
“We have one of the most innovative police decision-making programs in the United States based on our corporate sponsorships and we gave that program to Prince George’s County, and they chose not to utilize it,” sociology Professor Rashawn Ray said.
Many officers who participated in the press conference signed on to a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the department.
Community activist Kema Harris questioned the county's response to that investigation.
“The county, period, pays more money to protect the chief against officers who are claiming discrimination when you would think they would protect the officers who are speaking up,” said Harris, cofounder of the Community Justice Coalition.
Officers said they hope the report will create changes that protect them and the community they serve.
“I’m speaking for the officers who are afraid to speak up, that are intimidated,” Lt. Sonya Lancaster said.