Prince George’s County police

Sweeping Changes for Prince George's County Police Department Announced

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While the nation mourned the death of George Floyd, Prince George's County paid a $20 million settlement after Corporal Mike Owen shot and killed a handcuffed William Green. 

Months later, an embattled Prince George's County police chief stepped down, and County Executive Alsobooks assembled a task force to review the troubled department.

Alsobrooks announced sweeping changes for the county's police department as a result of the findings of that task force on Friday.

"The problems are well documented but it takes a different group of people to do something about it," Alsobrooks said.

The task force came up with 50 recommendations intended to restructure everything from police citizen interaction to oversight and budget. The county executive accepted 46 of those recommendations with a few amendments on Friday.

Among the new policies: the county will establish an oversight, compliance and integrity unit for police, the inspector general will be moved out of police headquarters to ensure neutrality, data on traffic stops and no knock warrants will be public, and the county will continue rolling out its body warn camera program.

"I'm proud that today our county executive has kept her promise to read our report and to quickly implement it," said task force co-chair Maryland Del. Alonzo Washington. 

Although most of the police department's use of force incidents stem from traffic stops, the county executive declined to shift traffic stops to another agency.

Interim Chief Hector Velez, who has been with the department nearly 30 years, says, thanks to the report, "We are being able to see things through a different lens."

The county has spent some $10 million defending itself in a suit filed by Prince George's County officers who allege discrimination within the department. While the task force report confirms some of their accusations, the county executive said, "The suit filed in the courthouse and it will stay in the courthouse."

The county is still searching for a permanent police chief, with Alsobrooks saying that these recommendations are a fundamental part of creating a new department that that chief will lead.

The county executive says these new changes will also help to dismantle the county's school-to-prison pipeline.

While school resource officers will remain in schools, school security personnel will no longer have arresting powers. They accounted for some 80% of student arrests. 

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