Candidates tout qualifications to join Prince George Police Accountability Board
Seventeen candidates who applied for a position on the Prince George’s County Police Accountability Board on Tuesday offered similar attributes, which they say are necessary for service: integrity, experience and love for the community. .
Each was allowed to speak for three minutes during a virtual County Council briefing; they range from community leaders, a retired sociology faculty member from the University of Maryland at College Park, and a paralegal.
One of the main goals, according to county law, will be for the board of directors and an administrative charge committee to “reflect the race, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation and cultural diversity of the county.” …and include members with a range of professionals or lived experiences.
Amity Pope, a mentor teacher at County Public Schools, described another personal experience that she felt qualified her for the board: a survivor of sexual assault.
“If nominated to serve on this council, I would compel my peers to think in ways that reimagine humanity through the lens of equity,” said Pope, also a local activist who co-founded the group PG Changemakers. “I’m grounded in the foundation of being committed to something bigger than myself.”
The county lists several provisions that exclude a person from serving on the police board, such as being a current state, county, or municipal employee or a former or active police officer on a do not call list. . The list represents officers whose past conduct makes them unreliable as witnesses in legal proceedings.
Peter Miller, a former police officer who works as an assistant principal at county public schools, said there was a mistake on his application with a red ‘yes’ next to being on a list of phone numbers excluded.
“When I read the question, I wasn’t clear about the meaning of the question. I’m not on any roll call of any kind,” he said. “I left the law enforcement. I just assumed that [the state’s attorney’s office doesn’t] don’t call the police anymore.
Saleem Abdul Mateen and Herbert Lacy were the only two candidates who did not run on Tuesday.
The board will choose five members from the 11-person board. That’s because County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) chooses the other five and the council chairman.
The goal will be to approve board membership by October 25. Some of their tasks will include:
- Receive complaints from the public with the name of a law enforcement officer and the name of the county or municipal agency.
- Issue subpoenas and interview witnesses.
- Attend law enforcement trainings.
After its establishment, the council may appoint residents to serve on an administrative billing committee and a local trial board. The committee would assess complaints about the police and have investigative powers to recommend disciplinary action against an officer.
An officer may appeal any finding of alleged misconduct to a trial board which includes a current or retired judge appointed by the county executive, a resident of the county, and a police officer of equal rank appointed by the officer police chief.
Although state law prohibits active police officers from serving on police boards, Maryland jurisdictions are not barred from appointing former police officers.
Calvert County has nine members on its board of directors, allowing any former police officer to serve if retired for at least five years.
A former police officer can also serve on a nine-member council in Baltimore County. Seven members represent a council district and two at-large members are chosen for the entire county.
In nearby Baltimore, no more than two police officers or employees of a law enforcement agency can serve on its police board at a time. The mayor and city council continue to work on nominating residents to establish a 17-member council.