The newly appointed public affairs director for the Prince George’s County Police Department said Wednesday that she wants to “observe everything” before making any changes to the way the department releases information.
Julie Parker, a general assignment reporter for ABC 7 News, will officially start work for the department July 5, taking over from Capt. Misty Mints, who had been filling the lead public affairs role on an interim basis since the previous public affairs officer, Maj. Andrew Ellis, retired this year to take a job with the U.S. State Department. In a telephone interview, Parker said it was too early to say what changes she might make to the public affairs office, which she interacted with as a reporter.
“While I’ve worked with spokespeople, I haven’t been in the public affairs office,” Parker said. “I’m not going to be one of those people who rolls in and says, ‘This is what we’re doing.’ ”
There had been some debate in the department as to who might be Ellis’s permanent replacement — especially about whether it should be a civilian or a sworn officer. Some argued that a sworn officer would be able to better glean information from other officers in the department, while others said the public affairs office should be led by a media professional rather than a cop.
Lt. Tammy Sparkman, who works in the public affairs office, was rumored to be in the running for the job, as was Michael McQuillan, a retired Prince George’s police commander.
In the end, Parker’s extensive local news experience won her the spot, a source inside the department said. Parker said she worked at C-SPAN, an NBC affiliate in Hagerstown and News Channel 8 before becoming a reporter for ABC 7 when it merged with News Channel 8 in 2002.
Parker said the job opportunity “sort of came to me,” and she was excited to work in Prince George’s during a time of transition. (A new county executive was sworn in in last December, about the same time federal authorities charged his predecessor with evidence-tampering and extortion.)
“I think you’re entering a challenging time in Prince George’s County, and I always like a challenge,” Parker said. “At the same time, everything seems to be new there. Things are turning over, and the newness is exciting.”
Parker said she will officially leave her job at ABC 7 on June 17.