Prince George’s County comes together after national tragedies

TEMPLE HILLS, Md. — After two police shootings and the ambush attack on police officers last week, many in the D.C. area looked for guidance, comfort and answers during Sunday church services.

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski talks to attendees at Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills, Md. on Sunday, July 10, 2016. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)
Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski addresses attendees at Community of Hope AME Church in Temple Hills, Md.. (WTOP/Mike Murillo)

At the Community of Hope AME Church hundreds of parishioners were joined by the county’s chief of police and the county’s state’s attorney at a service in the Iverson Mall.

The Rev. Tony Lee said the goal of the service was to help people process their emotions and work through the pain, frustration and despair.

“We’re actually able to watch people die on our cell phones and replay it time after time, and sometimes people can remain so stuck in that loop that it caused them to internalize this great grief, this great depression,” Lee said.

While Lee said the national discussion needs to continue on police reform, he said he doesn’t want the national narrative about a divide between police and residents, to take away from the work being done in Prince George’s County.

He said the county has taken great strides over the last decade to gain and maintain trust in the community.

“The national narrative is very different from the local narrative,” said Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks.

Alsobrooks said considerable work has been done to build relationships with members of the community, because she believes trust can’t be built by only coming to people during times of trouble.

Hank Stawinski, Prince George’s County’s police chief, said members of his department are continuously working to bring police and residents closer together.

“We’re constantly engaged, and constantly talking and, quite frankly, forming friendships and relationships with people who we care about,” Stawinski said. “Because when you trust people, everything else is easy.”

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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