The Prince George's County Police Department is struggling to comply with some terms of a federal agreement it signed in January after long-running investigations found systemic abuses within the force, a report concludes.
In its initial evaluation of the department's compliance with the agreement, an independent monitoring team found that the agency has been slow to develop general orders, standard operating procedures and department-wide protocols that address the agreement's terms. The eight-member panel, made up mostly of law enforcement officials from across the country, also found disparities in the reporting of use of force by officers.
"This report is a benchmark," said Barbara Hamm, the county's police spokeswoman. "It is the first report and it gives us a sense of how much progress we've made and the areas in which we need to continue to make progress."
The report, parts of which were made public yesterday, is the first assessment of the pace at which the department implements 67 requirements outlined in the agreement, which was spurred largely by allegations of excessive use of force by officers and alleged civil rights violations. The agreement was a result of a top-to-bottom probe of the 1,200-member force that spanned three police chiefs.
Compliance with the agreement over the next few years is to be monitored by U.S. Department of Justice officials and the independent team, headed by the former police chief of Tampa. The team is responsible for issuing reports every three months, although yesterday's report covered six months, from Jan. 22 through June 30.
The report also found that the department has created neither a general order system that is concise and useful to officers nor one that provides an adequate guide for decision-making or supervisory guidance.
The department has begun work on those concerns, Hamm said, adding that the department has consulted with other police forces across the country and has obtained a number of model policies to help officials craft a new system.
Other worries that the report expressed, including the timely implementation of an early-warning system to flag potentially abusive officers, have recently been addressed, Hamm said. She said representatives from the police department traveled late last month to Cincinnati -- a city that also was investigated by the Justice Department after allegations of civil rights violations surfaced -- to learn about its early identification system, which has been touted as meeting the requirements of the federal agreement.
Police officials have said in recent weeks that they will continue to work toward full compliance.
The Justice investigation of the department, which also included an inquiry into the canine unit, was conducted under a 1994 federal law that allows the Justice Department to investigate any local police force suspected of a "pattern or practice" of excessive force or other misconduct.
The probe of the canine unit, which began in 1999, also concluded with an agreement that was signed by county and Justice officials. That agreement, in the form of a consent decree, was filed in U.S. District Court. The county can be sanctioned by a judge if it fails to fulfill the terms of the decree, which include better training of canine officers and limiting the situations in which police dogs can be deployed.
The report is to be made available today on the county's Web site, www.goprincegeorges.com.