Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Maureen Lamasney and state Del. Alonzo T. Washington (D-Prince George’s) will lead the task force. The two are to submit a report with their recommendations to Alsobrooks (D) by Oct. 30.
“While we have made important strides together as a community to build a responsive, transparent and accountable Police Department, we realize that there is still more work to be done to address issues that are present in PGPD and in police departments across the nation,” Alsobrooks said in a statement.
Bob Ross, president of the county NAACP, urged the task force to learn from young members of the community when making its recommendations.
“The concept is good,” he said of the panel. “But they need to make sure to reach out to our younger population who are most impacted by police reform.”
Larry Stafford Jr., executive director of Progressive Maryland, pointed to the Minneapolis City Council’s push to disband the city’s police department as a model for the task force to consider.
“I hope folks can think critically about ways to transform our system of public safety beyond merely investing in armed law enforcement,” he said. “We believe that the amount of money we have spent in policing does not necessarily bring us the results of true safety.”
Officials with the Prince George’s County Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
The announcement of the task force comes as Prince George’s County, a majority-black jurisdiction, is rebuilding its police department from the top down. A national search is underway to replace Hank Stawinski, the county’s former police chief who resigned June 18 amid fresh allegations of discrimination within the department.
Officials have said that the suburb has made dramatic improvements in terms of police-community relations since the 1990s, when complaints about excessive force led to a federal consent decree that lasted until 2004. But amid the nationwide moment of racial reckoning, county leaders have vowed to implement significant changes to their police department, including shifting at least some funding from police facilities to facilities for mental health and addiction services.
Prince George’s County has previously stopped short of following in the footsteps of its neighbors in the District. The D.C. Council recently passed legislation that calls for the quick release of officer names and body-camera footage after police use of force.
“We will take our time and be measured,” said County Council Chair Todd M. Turner (D-District 4) at a virtual discussion June 16.
Rachel Chason contributed to this report.