Two national black police organizations have criticized the procedures used in an internal investigation by the Rockville Police Department of a scuffle last summer that resulted when two white officers arrested three black city residents. One of the organizations recommended that the officers be fired.
The police groups --The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the National Black Police Association -- wrote letters to the head of the Montgomery County chapter of the NAACP recently challenging the investigative procedures used in a report on the July 19 incident in Lincoln Park. The officers were accused by Lincoln Park residents of using excessive force as they arrested Montrea Davis, her mother Constance M. Hardman and her father Joseph B. Davis while investigating a report of an abandoned car.
The Washington chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives recently criticized the report's "vague style," noting that it failed to identify witnesses and their locations at the time of the incident.
"In terms of making an objective and accurate assessment of what really occurred, the report as released by the Rockville Police Department is of little or no value," the organization stated in a response to NAACP chapter President Roscoe R. Nix.
The organization said that the report's contention that polygraph tests confirmed the officers' recollection -- that residents struck the first blows -- are "without merit, given the fact that the department failed to indicate what questions were asked."
The National Black Police Association concluded that "the information provided is less than a comprehensive account of the events which occurred that day."
"The officers involved were not professional in their behavior and . . .should not be permitted to continue as police officers," national chairman Ronald Hampton said in a letter to Nix.
The internal report provided the basis for Police Chief Jared D. Stout's recommendation that the officers be disciplined, but not fired, as the NAACP demanded. Stout was not available this week for comment.
Four months ago, a police trial board fined one of the officers, Alice F. Anselmo, $2,400 and suspended her for 10 days for her part in the incident. The other officer, John N. Converse, was absolved of wrongdoing by a trial board in February.
Nix said he was "pleased that two outside police organizations have also found much to question in the report, as well as in the conduct of the officers."
The NAACP has asked the Howard University Law Center and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to review the Maryland Police Officer's Bill of Rights, a law that city officials said prevents them, or any other outside body, from disciplining the officers.
The Maryland law outlines officers' rights to trial board review and specifies how discipline is to be imposed.