Current and former Prince George’s County police officers present recommendations for a police reform task force to improve police department. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The Prince George’s County Police Department should implement mandatory implicit bias and anti-harassment training.
Adopt a bystander intervention program that teaches officers how to intercede when wrongdoing by another officer occurs.
These are just of the dozen recommendations current and former Black and Latino officers presented Thursday during a virtual press conference. These officers are part of an ongoing lawsuit filed in December 2018 based on allegations of racial and retaliatory practices within the department.
“I’m from this county. I live in this county. I am vested in this county,” said Lt. Sonya Zollicoffer, second vice president with the United Black Police Officers Association that’s part of the lawsuit. “We have to make change and it has to start way beyond the police department.”
The recommendations presented are more than five hours before a police reform task force hold its first community listening session Thursday.
The 23-member group established by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks seeks to review and assess police department policies that include training, hiring and use of force.
Officers involved in lawsuit sent a letter to task force with their proposals to enhance the department that include adopting a stronger affirmative action plan and provide incentives for officers hired within two years to reside in the county.
Also, appoint a senior officer as a compliance officer with independent authority to set policies and investigate discriminatory complaints. Currently, the officers state in the letter the department’s Internal Affairs Division and the equal employment opportunity coordinator work to address racial equality and justice issues “has been a failure.”
Meanwhile, four community groups filed a complaint in federal court Tuesday to request a nearly 100-page report that outlines more than dozen incidents of racial and retaliation by white officers against Black and Latino officers be fully available for public record.
Part of the report remains redacted by the county due to personnel matters.
According to a bill summary from an updated civil suit filed July 16 by the plaintiffs, the county has spent $6.3 million to challenge suit as of April 30.
One sentiment that reigned Thursday is current leadership aligned with former Police Chief Hank Stawinski must also go.
Alsobrooks announced the appointment of Assistant Chief Hector Velez as interim chief the day after Stawinski resigned June 18.
A national search continues for a new police chief.
“There is no leadership going on right now,” said Lt. Thomas Boone, president of the United Black Police Officers Association. “We have to make sure we bring in someone who hasn’t been tainted under that [Stawinski] administration.”

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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