Prince George’s County Council moved another step closer to approving several amendments Monday, June 6 with most of the focus on establishing a police accountability board.

The council, which met as a Committee of the Whole, voted 10-1 on the amendments with Council member Edward Burroughs III (D-District 8) of Camp Springs as the lone dissenter.

One amendment council and the county executive’s office agreed upon would allow the executive to choose five members and the board chair and council to nominate the remaining five people. However, all 11 members must receive the council’s approval. 

Some residents and activists have said they do not want County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to appoint any members.

“It doesn’t make any sense. She still has control of the selection of the [police accountability board] members,” said Dawn Dalton of Upper Marlboro. “It’s very disappointing.”

One example Dalton and other community activists referred to deals with Alsobrooks appointing county school board chair Juanita Miller. The Maryland Board of Education voted last month to issue a notice of charges to Miller, which could lead to her possible removal from the school board.

Another amendment presented would permit a former police officer to serve on the 11-member body. Some residents requested no one affiliated with law enforcement join the board.

One amendment which did receive “compromise” came from Council member Tom Dernoga (D-District 1) of Laurel to allocate 1% of the entire police department budget to fund the board and an administrative charging committee in the 2024 fiscal year budget. The estimated amount accumulates to $3.7 million.

“This is your democracy in action,” said Council member Todd Turner (D-District 4) of Bowie.

Council approved a 2023 fiscal year budget June 1 that includes funding both boards at $1.4 million.

Nearly $500,000 for the police accountability board will allow for hiring three-full time employees, stipends for board members, legal fees and operating and administrative costs. Approximately $921,100 for an administrative charging committee will pay for six full-time workers and stipends for the five committee members who will assess police complaints filed by the public.

If an officer faces challenges through a formal grievance, the individual will go before a three-member trial board.

All of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City must approve the formation of a police accountability board and other police-related measures with a state-imposed deadline of July 1 approaching soon. 

During the nearly five-hour discussion Monday, Will Milaw, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 112 of the county’s Deputy Sheriff’s Association, said the council or county executive can choose the police board’s chair.

Milaw also offered advice for the council to not be influenced by outside voices such as the ACLU of Maryland.

“Your power and authority shouldn’t be watered down and punted by some other entity,” he said. “I have full faith and confidence in [County Council] . . . to make these type of decisions.”

Sheila Colson traveled from Pennsylvania to testify on behalf of her son, Det. Jacai Colson, a Prince George’s County officer shot and killed by a fellow officer during an ambush outside a police station in 2016. The former officer mistook Colson for one of the three shooters.

The family, which filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county after Colson’s death, announced last month it reached a settlement with the county for $400,000.

The family hired the firm of Murphy, Falcon & Murphy which helped the family of William Green, Jr. reach a $20 million settlement after a former county police officer shot and killed Green in January 2020 while handcuffed in a police cruiser.

“I’m going to come here and do whatever I can to make sure transparency and accountability are held with these police officers,” Sheila Colson said to the council. “My son is not here. It is left to his parents to make sure things are put in place correctly to help reform this police department.”

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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