A federal judge in Baltimore has ruled that Prince George's County must follow the terms of a settlement it reached last year with the county chapter of the NAACP in an 8-year-old police brutality case.
The NAACP claimed last month that the county has reneged on its agreement to require continued enforcement of an executive order which provides for civilian review of police brutality complaints.
The order -- called Executive Order 44 -- allowed the county's human relations commission to review the final decisions of police internal affairs investigations into misconduct by officers. A subsequent court decision, however, gutted much of the effectiveness of the executive order.
In the fall of 1979, the NAACP and the county arrived at an entirely new agreement to enforce the provisions of Executive Order 44. But NAACP lawyers charged that a county attorney subsequently indicated that it was the county's view that the settlement was "mere (public relations) for the press, with no binding legal obligation on the county."
Josie Bass, president of the county NAACP, said this week that she was pleased with the ruling.
In a response, County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan said, "The county is satisfied with the terms of the negotiated settlement because we have been abiding by its terms for over five years."
Hogan has maintained that the county never intended to renege on the settlement.
"I vigorously deny any allegations that police brutality complaints have not been properly handled by the Prince George's County police department," he said earlier.
The ruling was made after a hearing last week by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph H. Young. The original law suit was filed in 1972 by the NAACP on behalf of nine alleged victims of police brutality. A spokesman for the county attorney's office said the county now considers the case closed.