Prince George’s Co. police chief ends unauthorized incentive program

An unauthorized incentive program gave officers in a Prince George’s County, Maryland, police district compensatory time based on how productive they were, and the police chief shut it down, saying it had the potential to erode public trust.

Chief Hank Stawinski said during a news conference Wednesday that he was made aware on July 26 of the unauthorized program that had been going on for six months in the Bowie station.

“Briefly in the last six months … officers who were the most productive would receive 10 hours of compensatory time on a monthly basis,” Stawinski said.

This meant that if a patrol squad had eight members and one officer wrote eight citations, another officer wrote seven, another six and going down the line one, then the officer who wrote the most would get 10 hours of comp time, Stawinski said. “It’s not a quota-based system.”

And it’s any kind of enforcement action, such as warnings, equipment repair orders, person stops, arrests, etc.

Although the conduct is not illegal, Stawinski said that the public could view the unauthorized program through the lens of enforcement for the sake of incentive, which is not in alignment with the values and culture of Prince George’s County.

“This creates the possibility in people’s mind that an officer would make a traffic stop, detain a person, make an arrest, in order to receive a benefit,” Stawinski said “It’s not the appropriate manner to professionally police in 2019.”

Stawinski said that an internal affairs inquiry found no complaints that appeared to be related to the program.

“I apologize on behalf of this institution if this creates any concern,” he said.

The commander and assistant commander of the Bowie station have been disciplined and transferred, and Stawinski said that he is currently developing a policy that would prohibit any such programs in the future.

The police department does have an incentive program that allows officers to receive compensatory time, and it is based on good conduct.

“If an officer hasn’t had any internal affairs complaints, if they haven’t gotten any red-light tickets, they’re eligible to legitimately receive 30 hours of comp time,” Stawinski said.

He is in favor of programs like that because the public can’t conclude that an officer is acting in any official capacity in order to receive a reward.

Communities in the Bowie station include Bowie, Glendale, Greenbelt, Kettering, Largo, Lanham, Mitchelville, New Carrollton, Seabrook, Springdale, Upper Marlboro and Woodmore.

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