Uncertainty surrounds departure of Pr. George's police official

There is speculation that Deputy Chief Anita Rosser might have had a falling out with the police chief. Rosser and the chief declined to comment.
There is speculation that Deputy Chief Anita Rosser might have had a falling out with the police chief. Rosser and the chief declined to comment.
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By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 22, 2009

After a little more than six months on the job, the first female deputy police chief in Prince George's County is leaving the department, authorities confirmed this week.

Anita Rosser, who was appointed to be Chief Roberto L. Hylton's chief of staff in April, filed the paperwork late last week to go on terminal leave until March, when she will reach 20 years of service with the department and be able to receive at least 60 percent of her salary in retirement.

The department sent out an e-mail late Friday detailing the organizational changes that would follow, and a copy was provided to The Washington Post.

Why Rosser is leaving so early in her term as deputy chief was unclear. Speculation in the department is that she and Hylton, who once enjoyed a sibling-like relationship, have had a falling out, said two police sources with indirect knowledge of the case. But Rosser also recently got married, and one law enforcement source said she is leaving for personal reasons. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Reached outside her Clinton home, Rosser declined to comment, saying she could not do so until she officially retires in March. Hylton also declined to comment through a spokeswoman.

The silence on Rosser's departure stands in contrast to the fanfare that marked her promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel this year. At that time, Hylton said at a public ceremony that Rosser's new rank, the highest one that a woman has held in Prince George's, was "a proud moment in the history of our county."

In an interview after the ceremony, Rosser said she wished that she were not the first female deputy chief but hoped that she would be "just the first of many more to come."

Capt. Misty Mints, a police department spokeswoman, said that she did not know why Rosser was leaving but that it is not uncommon for police officers to use leave time and retire at 20 years of service.

"If there's other things that you want to do, it would be better to leave when you're a little bit younger," Mints said.

Rosser was 42 at the time of her appointment. Mints declined to say whether she had had a birthday since that time.

Rosser, a graduate of Bowie High School and Prince George's Community College, distinguished herself in the department by connecting with community groups and working to reduce violent crime. When she commanded the department's District 2 in 2008, violent crime there fell by 11.3 percent -- the biggest drop in any district that year.

Mints said Rosser's leaving "will be a loss."

"She was a strong leader and well liked by the community, and the contact she had with the community. I'm sure that they're sad that she's leaving," Mints said.

As Hylton's chief of staff, a position later renamed chief of the bureau of administration, Rosser oversaw the divisions of planning and research, professional standards, training and education, and community services. She will be replaced temporarily by Maj. Gary Cunningham, who was commander of District 4. Maj. James Harper, commander of the department's community services division, will temporarily fill Cunningham's spot.

Rosser had a salary of $143,837. Mints declined to say what percent of that she will receive in retirement. Police can trade in annual leave and sick time for a higher percentage, and Mints declined to say how much time Rosser has accrued.

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