Prince George’s County Police Chief Mark Magaw will announce Friday that he is leaving his post to become the county’s head of public safety as part of a shuffling of leaders in Rushern L. Baker III’s administration, according to three county employees familiar with the plan.
The exact details of the shake-up remain unclear, but the people familiar with at least parts of it said that Magaw will replace Barry Stanton as the county’s head of public safety.
What will happen to Stanton — and whether Magaw will be able to draw police retirement benefits in addition to a county salary — remained unclear Thursday afternoon. Magaw declined to comment, and Stanton did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
A spokesman for Baker said he could not confirm any details but added that officials plan to reveal more in an announcement Friday.
Magaw will be replaced on an interim basis by Prince George’s deputy chief, Henry “Hank” Stawinski. He, too, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Magaw’s move comes as the county’s homicide total has surpassed last year’s figure: It now stands at 71, compared with 54 that the department investigated in 2014. But that is true of many jurisdictions across the country, and homicides have generally fallen in Prince George’s under Magaw’s tenure. Between 2000 and 2010, the county averaged 126 slayings a year, but those dropped nearly 40 percent between 2010 and 2014. A department spokesman said Thursday that overall crime is down 17.3 percent over last year and violent crime is down 9.1 percent.
Magaw, 57, a married father of four who grew up in Prince George’s, has spent more than three decades with the county police department. He has received high marks from citizens who say the department has improved relations with the community under his watch and has been praised by neighborhood watch leaders and members of the local branch of the NAACP.
Magaw served in various capacities before becoming chief — including as deputy chief in charge of the Strategic Enforcement Bureau — and his career has not been without controversy. Notably, he was commander of the police department’s narcotics enforcement division when a sheriff’s office SWAT team, serving a county police warrant, broke down the door of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo’s home in 2008 and fatally shot his two dogs. In the wake of that incident, Magawtold public-affairs officers that authorities had obtained a “no-knock” warrant when they had not.
Magaw was named interim chief in late 2010 after Roberto L. Hylton was let go by Baker. Hylton’s ouster was not an easy one: Crime had dropped to historically low levels on his watch, and a group of civic leaders advocated for Baker to keep him.
Commanders complained privately, though, that Hylton would berate them during weekly staff meetings. Magaw, a deputy chief under Hylton, was seen as calming presence. He was confirmed as permanent chief in June 2011.
As interim chief, Magaw’s salary was $162,967. His new salary could not immediately be confirmed Thursday afternoon.
Crime continued to drop with Magaw as chief, and he seemed to push the department to become more transparent.
There have been incidents of police misconduct on his watch: Earlier this month, an officer who held a gun to a man’s head, apparently to impress his friends, was convicted of first-degree assault. Magaw seemed to position himself as wanting to root out problems, saying the behavior was “among the worst” he’d seen as chief. He earned high marks from The Washington Post editorial board for his handling of the incident.