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Lt. Col. Roland Butler was sworn in by Gov. Wes Moore (D) to serve as the next superintendent of the Maryland State Police on April 11.
Moore, who ran for governor with a promise to improve diversity and inclusion in Maryland, has appointed the first African American ever to serve in that role. He was appointed by the Senate on a 43-4 vote.
“With three decades of exemplary service in the department, Lt. Col. Roland Butler is the best person to move the Maryland Department of State Police forward. I want to thank the members of the Senate for overwhelmingly supporting his confirmation,” Moore said in a statement.
Despite the historic nature of his nomination, support for Butler had to be gauged and fought for by Moore and his administration.
Maryland state Sen. Joanne Benson (D-District 24) was one of several legislators who did not support Butler’s appointment. Prior to Butler’s appointment, Benson said that Black troopers who expressed concerns did not have confidence in Butler to fix the hostile work environment.
State Sen. Michael Jackson (D- District 27B), who formerly served as Prince George’s County Sheriff, also expressed concerns regarding the number of Black officers, who said the number of Black officers has halved from about 300 to fewer than 150 in past years.
Multiple Black officers filed a class action lawsuit against the Maryland State Police, and the Department of Justice launched an investigation into agency hiring practices in recent months. There have also been reports of quotas for traffic tickets being used by state police. Butler promised to address these issues head-on during his confirmation.
As one of the conditions of his hiring, portions of the state police budget will be contingent on reporting and meeting certain improvement goals.