A dozen minority Prince George’s County police officers say the department can take steps to diversify its leadership ranks right away by pulling officers up in rank based on an existing promotion list.
“We are the officers that reflect the diversity and demographics of Prince George’s County,” said Sgt. Lynn Grant during a news conference Tuesday, speaking on behalf of the 12 officers who wrote a letter to acting Chief Hector Velez, asking him to elevate officers using the 2018 promotion list.
After 21 years with the department, Grant said that she can retire, but she wants to continue serving the people of Prince George’s County and has already cleared the hurdles of the promotion process to achieve the rank of lieutenant.
In April, county officers got word from the union that the 2020 promotional exam was postponed due to concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were told that there has always been a past practice of the list expiring 60 days prior to the exam. We understood this past practice. But due to the postponement of the exam, we feel that the past practice actually works in our favor, and the list is currently active and should be used in selecting officers for promotion now,” Grant said.
The request by the group is separate from the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and 13 officers alleging racial bias against the department. Then-Chief Hank Stawinski resigned following the release of the report.
Attorney Lawrence Holzman, who represents the 12 officers, said they intended on working with the county directly to achieve change, but did not receive a substantial response from leadership.
“We’d like to work with the county in making a positive change, and we just think this is one very narrow thing that can be done to start that process now,” Holzman said.
All the officers he represents, including Grant, were eligible for promotion following the 2018 process.
“It is important that the department promote Black and brown officers, Asian officers and members of the LGBT community, which are on our list,” Grant said. “We’ll be the future leaders of this county and we’ll be interacting with the citizens of this county, which is majority African American.”
In response, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said the promotional practices used by the department was negotiated by the police union and has been in place for years.
“Our Police Reform Task Force is currently reviewing all policies and procedures within the department to include the promotional process, and we look forward to receiving their recommendations,” she said in a statement. “Our Office of Human Resources Management is also reviewing all personnel procedures within the Department. It is our goal to ensure that every policy and procedure is fair and equitable for every officer.”