Maryland police chief resigns after reports of discrimination within department

Maryland police chief resigns after reports of discrimination within department
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Embattled Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski has resigned, effective immediately, County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) announced Thursday.

The announcement comes shortly after several officers who are suing the county filed an expert report which they said demonstrates patterns of discrimination against black and Hispanic personnel, The Washington Post reported.

The report, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, alleges widespread discrimination against black and Hispanic officers under Stawinski, including describing five occasions when the department took no action upon hearing complaints about racist behavior by white officers from local civic leaders. It also found no officer has been disciplined for racial profiling, and identified more than 24 cases where white officers used racist language or circulated racist imagery, with “no or minimal discipline.”

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Incidents mentioned in the report include officers walking out of a mandatory implicit bias training course developed by the University of Maryland, as well as a white corporal who described a hypothetical “black bad guy” during a demonstration to a group of children. There was no indication of any discipline in either case, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the report found officers of color were considerably more likely to be subjected to internal disciplinary charges as compared to their white counterparts, and several times more likely to be terminated.

“[T]here is evidence that the Department has persistently and systemically failed to investigate or discipline adequately allegations of discrimination,” Michael Graham, the former assistant sheriff in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, wrote in the expert report.

“Given the pandemic of police terror happening across the nation, the fact that Black and Brown officers also face retaliation by white leadership in a majority Black county for raising concern about police misconduct against community members speaks to how deep and destructive white supremacy is within law enforcement,” Deborah Jeon, Legal Director of the ACLU of Maryland, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the department referred The Hill to Alsobrooks’ office.