Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Friday the departure of two top officials named in a racial-discrimination lawsuit against the county police department, one day after another police officer named in the suit was arrested for federal tax evasion.
In a statement, Alsobrooks said she asked for and accepted the resignation of Mark Magaw, former police chief and most recently the deputy chief administrative officer (DCAO) for public safety and homeland security.
Alsobrooks also said interim police Chief Hector Velez will retire.
“As county executive and as a Prince Georgian, I share the disappointment and anger of many in our community regarding yet another negative incident within our department,” Alsobrooks said in a statement. “I want to be clear that we are in a period of reformation within our department and we will continue to operate with transparency and urgency to address the many challenges that we confront as they arise.”
The new chief, Malik Aziz, will begin leading the force on May 9, when he’ll be tasked with helping implement 46 police reform measures that include mental health programs, creating an office of integrity and compliance and incorporating training for preventing racial profiling.
Alsobrooks’ announcement comes as activists and family members of those killed by police continue to demand stronger police reforms in Prince George’s and nationwide.
The announced departures of Magaw and Velez came one day after federal authorities arrested Lt. Edward Scott Finn, 46, for tax evasion.
According to court documents, Finn didn’t report $1.3 million of income from Edward Finn Inc., his private security services business, on his tax returns from 2014 to 2019, instead depositing the money into his personal or his children’s bank accounts. He employed off-duty law enforcement officers for security services to apartment complexes and other businesses mostly in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
Finn failed to pay roughly $485,000 in taxes. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.
Finn, Magaw and Velez are named in an ongoing lawsuit filed in December 2018 by current and former Black and Latino officers that accuse the department of racist and retaliatory practices.
The complaint alleges Finn, a white police veteran, made derogatory statements about the Black Lives Matter movement. Magaw and Velez are accused in the suit of not dealing with the racist behavior in the department.
A federal judge ordered a preliminary injunction last week to bar the use of the current police department’s promotion system.
The judge’s decision orders the plaintiffs and the department agree to appoint an independent expert to review written tests, skills assessments and selection process “and to recommend changes to reduce or eliminate adverse impact and discrimination against Black and Hispanic officers.”
A revised promotion system must be adopted to conduct new promotion cycles in October, according to court documents.
About 64% of Prince George’s residents are Black and another 20% are Latino. As of July, about 43% of the officers are white and another 43% are Black in the more than 1,500-member department.
Of the top three ranks of captain, lieutenant and sergeant, at least half of those are white.
“I believe with new policies and leadership at the top, and the reforms that we are continuing to implement in our department, we have the fresh start we need to continue moving forward with making our department a model for the nation,” Alsobrooks said. “I want to thank the many men and women of our police department who honorably serve our community each day. The actions of officers like Lt. Finn do not reflect their desire to serve our residents and continue working hard to build trust between our department and the community.”