Among the most controversial recommendations is the repeal of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights (LEOBR), which extends protections to law enforcement officers that average citizens do not have and can make it difficult for police leadership to handle cases of misconduct. The Maryland General Assembly is expected to take up LEOBR next year. If state lawmakers do not repeal it altogether, the county work group offered ways it could be amended to support greater transparency and accountability.
Other sweeping recommendations include the creation of an Office of Integrity and Compliance that would report to the county executive, creating a new chain of command and a degree of separation and independence from the police chief. The inspector general for the police department would lead the office, and a race and gender equity director would be hired to conduct data-driven audits of department practices.
The report also asks the county to “reimagine” the police department’s budget to “effectively deliver progressive public safety reforms.”
County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks formed the work group in July after nationwide unrest and uprisings over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor had once again concentrated intense scrutiny on police violence and the ways in which the criminal justice system disproportionately harms Black people.
In a statement, Alsobrooks thanked the work group and the community for their “tireless work” to produce a “thoughtful and thorough report.”
“As a community, we continue to confront each and every challenge that we face together, and I know that our collective efforts on this issue will ensure our police department becomes a model for the nation,” she said.
The county executive said she will review the recommendations and decide which will be implemented.
Interim police chief Hector Velez said in a statement that he looked forward to working with Alsobrooks to “move our police department forward.”
Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s), who chaired the work group with retired Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Maureen Lamasney, said their team of policymakers, community organizers, faith leaders, law enforcement officials and county government representatives worked hard to find common ground while still creating substantive, progressive reform recommendations.
But their report, he said, is only the first step. The recommendations call on lawmakers and government officials to act — including the county executive, the county council, the school board, police leadership and the Maryland General Assembly.
“There should be a call to action from the entire Prince George’s County community so these recommendations don’t sit on a shelf like they typically do,” Washington said.
In her letter to county residents in the report, Lamasney said she was a new circuit court judge in 2001 when the last reform work group — then called the Community Task Force on Police Accountability — was formed by then-County Executive Wayne K. Curry. It was a time of turmoil for the community, and the U.S. Justice Department would spend much of that decade monitoring the police department after reports of systemic wrongdoing.
Lamasney reread that group’s 20-year-old report as she prepared to lead the current team.
“Many, if not most, of the issues addressed by both work groups were the same,” she said.
The report includes dozens of recommendations that came from five subcommittees and were voted on for final approval by the entire work group. Though all recommendations were not unanimously approved by the complete body, many were.
Work group member Krystal Oriadha, who co-founded PG Change Makers after Floyd’s death, said she was pleased to see advocates’ demands make the final version of the report. But she also said she wishes the group had gone further on some issues — including setting hard numerical goals for reducing the police budget.
“Overall, the recommendations are a really good first step in the process of seeing reform for the police department,” she said. “The next step for us is organizing and mobilizing the community... We have this blueprint now and framework.”
The report also includes comments from community members, who participated in sessions over Zoom and often asked for greater citizen oversight, more resources to fund mental health care for residents and de-escalation training for officers.
They also expressed a sentiment that has been echoed by a group of Black and Brown officers who are suing the county for alleged discrimination: that the police department could better serve the community if its force and leadership reflected the demographics of Prince George’s. The county is at least 80 percent Black and Hispanic, with a police department that is 41 percent White, according to the report.
One subcommittee focused on recruitment and retention within the department, and its key recommendations included creating an incentive for officers to live in the county, which the police union said is an initiative it has long supported.
The report also suggested establishing more robust recruiting practices to lure homegrown officers and revising the hiring process to disqualify officers with disciplinary histories at their previous jobs.
Data from the report showed that White officers were hired at a higher rate than Black officers, even though more Black officers than White officers applied to work for the department.
Scattered throughout the report were recommendations to help improve trust — including the creation of a customer service initiative, increasing resources to the Citizen Complaint Oversight Panel and promoting transparency about the collective bargaining process with the police union.
Angelo Consoli, president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge for Prince George’s County, said the bargaining process is secretive even to rank-and-file members and that they would welcome more transparency.
“For the things that we can work on, we’re there,” Consoli said. “A lot of it makes sense, community engagement and things like that, are all things we need to do.”
Consoli also said he was glad to see a commitment to mental health in the report, both for community resources and officer well-being.
He said he remains skeptical of how all the initiatives will be funded, but vowed to work with the county executive to implement the reforms she chooses.
The report also offered comprehensive guidance for an overhaul of the way school resource officers and security personnel are dispatched in public schools, calling for the county to rescind arrest powers for security personnel. The work group also called on the county to reduce the number of school security personnel and reinvest that money into programs that support the mental and behavioral health of students.
Data from the report shows that Black students were disproportionately arrested during the last three school years.
Former Prince George’s state’s attorney Glenn Ivey chaired the subcommittee that examined the police department’s internal policies.
From the start, he said his greatest concern was tackling pretextual stops — the practice of using a minor traffic infraction to pull someone over before searching their vehicle for such things as guns or drugs. Limiting them was his team’s first recommendation.
The practice is the roadway equivalent to stop-and-frisk, and it has the potential to reinforce racial profiling or lead to a police shooting, he said. Ivey and his sons, who are Black, have been stopped by the police in this way.
If implemented, Ivey said, the guidance on pretextual stops could help push the conversation nationally.
His committee also offered guidance on no-knock warrants — the practice that led police in Louisville to shoot and kill Taylor in her apartment in March. They called on the state’s attorney and chief of police to sign off on any no-knock warrant and for the department to require additional justification for serving a warrant at night.
Ivey said the work group spent much of the fall receiving hours-long presentations from the department and county, then following up by requesting data.
Much of that data was included in the appendix to the report.
Often, he said, laws and policies are born of anecdotes — not numbers.
“To defeat that kind of anecdotal policymaking, I think forcing data collection and analysis is the best way to go,” he said. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as they say.”