Unredacted report alleges racism in Prince George’s Co. Police Department

A new unredacted report details allegations of systemic racism inside the Prince George’s County Police Department.

The expert report by Michael Graham — a former senior officer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department — was written in connection with a lawsuit against the department by the Hispanic National Law Enforcement Association and others. It was ordered unredacted earlier this month by a federal judge in Maryland.

Among Graham’s findings …

  • The department’s policies for handling racial harassment and discrimination complaints are “inadequate.”
  • Leadership “appears to have made a deliberate choice not to track or monitor its performance concerning these matters.”
  • Any misconduct allegation is “treated differently when the charges are made against white officers.”

Graham wrote that the department’s policies for handling discrimination complaints require employees to report within the chain of command — and failed to assure confidentiality. It’s a “flawed” approach, he wrote, because the complaint may involve someone in the chain of command.

He alleged officers who do complain are retaliated against, “in that they are transferred or otherwise removed from their jobs and sometimes face counter-charges.”

And according to Graham, the department did little to make sure anti-retaliation and anti-harassment policies were followed, claiming that under both former Chief Hank Stawinski and interim police Chief Hector Velez, there was no audit, survey or review to see if there had been any retaliation.

While the department does have policies that speak to racial discrimination and harassment, Graham said that based on the information he received, complaints “are usually not investigated at all.”

In addition, the report criticized the department’s enforcement of use-of-force policies and how it keeps track of alleged violations of those policies by officers.

“Officers who have engaged in frequent use of force against minority civilians do not appear to have been adequately investigated or disciplined,” Graham wrote.

He also alleged racist incidents involving some officers — who are identified in the unredacted report — were apparently never investigated. A few of these include: one officer’s derisive comment about the Black Lives Matter movement; another officer referring to former President Barack Obama with a racial epithet; and a white officer posting derogatory images of a senior Hispanic officer inside the department.

A newly released deposition of the now-retired Stawinski illustrates that he was aware of such concerns inside the department before reviewing the report.

“I saw a lot of the same concerns that had been raised in numerous prior conversations, and that really was part of what propelled me to retire,” Stawinski said in the July 31 deposition.

When asked for comment, Prince George’s County passed along its own expert report by Tom Manger, former police chief for both Montgomery County (2004-2019) and Fairfax County (1998-2004).

“The Manger Report repeatedly points out instances where Mr. Graham failed to review or consider essential documents, misstates key facts and dates, takes statements and events out of context, relies solely on the allegations of some disgruntled and discredited officers — some of whom were terminated for significant misconduct, misidentifies officers, and bases his opinions on unfounded assumptions,” said county attorney Rhonda Weaver in a statement.

“The Manger Report took a deep dive into the allegations of misconduct cited by the Plaintiffs and concluded that, on the whole, that the Department has complied with its policies for addressing harassment and discrimination complaints, which are commensurate with best practices and industry standards.”

The Manger report is in the process of being unredacted.

In a statement Monday night, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy said once the county has the full Graham reports and related exhibits, her office “will conduct a thorough review and take appropriate action.”

“Our job is to seek the truth, and we will do so in a transparent manner and will conduct independent investigations where necessary,” she said.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Jack Pointer

Jack Pointer is a writer and editor with a variety of news and publishing experience, including more than a decade at The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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