A special committee appointed to review recruitment and training in the Prince George's County police department recommended yesterday that the force strengthen its affirmative action policies and institute more stringent testing procedures for new officers.
The nine-member committee, which was named by County Executive Parris Glendening after the police department's top-ranking black officer was forced to resign in December, also criticized a new policy that has allowed recruits to retake certain tests up to 12 times in order to achieve passing scores.
"The department should reconsider its policy regarding retesting," the report said. "Recognizing that failure to pass each of 45 tests is no indication of incompetence as a future police officer, the committee believes that 12 retestings may be excessive and, therefore, should be reduced."
The committee report also said that the department's recruiting effort "should be heightened and strengthened and the needs of affirmative action on the basis of race and sex should be of prime consideration."
Racial tension has plagued the county police force for some time, and the Black Police Officers Association has challenged the department's disciplinary and promotional practices. Lawyers for the BPOA have said they may file a federal discrimination suit against the department.
One such suit has already been filed by Lt. Col. Thomas Davis, who was forced to resign in December as chief in charge of personnel after three officers said he pressured them to alter test scores for black applicants who failed qualifying tests. No test scores were changed, however.
Ten years ago, the county, at the direction of the U.S. Justice Department, agreed to increase minority representation on the police force by guaranteeing that each class of recruits would be 50 percent black and female. That program has increased the number of black officers on the force from 33 out of 794 members on the force in 1975 to 170 in today's 900-member force.
The committee, which was chaired by county personnel officer Mary Godfrey, also recommended in its report that the police department reestablish the administrative ties with county government that were diminished when an internal police personnel office was set up in 1974.
Lt. Col. Theodore R. Carr, formerly one of three assistant chiefs of the D.C. police department, has replaced Davis as head of personnel. Carr has been assigned by the committee with following through on the report's recommendations as well as continuing to investigate assignments, promotions, grievance management and discipline.
Glendening said yesterday that he will ask Police Chief Michael J. Flaherty to implement the committee's recommendations, which he said will "improve the quality of the force, the fairness of the process for all officers, and move the county significantly ahead in our quest for a police department that is fully representative of our community."