Prince George’s Co. Council hears from candidates for Police Accountability Board

The Prince George’s County Council is working to fill five of the 11 spots on the county’s new Police Accountability Board.

On Tuesday, 17 candidates for those five spots spoke before the council to talk about why they would be good selections. Later this fall, the council will meet in executive session to discuss the candidates and make their five selections.

Assuming they pass background checks, they’ll get to join the county’s new police accountability board.

Here are the 17 candidates who spoke:

Andrea Coleman, Bowie

Coleman is the owner of KLK Research Group and has decades of experience working in the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems, including as a civilian employee with a police department in Kentucky.

“Part of my work there was standing up some of these accountability boards,” she told the council.

James Freeny, Springdale

Freeny has spent decades working with the homeless around the region, and is currently the director of operations of the D.C. Coalition for the Homeless. He told the council he’s also spoken at police academy training sessions about crisis trainings.

“I have had the opportunity to speak on a very specific crisis that I had with police officers,” he said. “In the crisis trainings, I’ve found the police officers to be easily engaged, ask thoughtful questions, and I have had the opportunity to share a very personal experience that I’ve had with mental illness and suggest best practices.”

Delanta Harrison, Camp Springs

Harrison is the vice president of the Camp Springs Civic Association and is currently enrolled in the Civilians Police Academy. He’s also worked in a variety of functions at the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I am a great candidate to bridge the gap between officers and the citizens,” he said.

Keenon James, Upper Marlboro

James said he went to college looking to be a police officer after his brother was shot and killed in a murder that still hasn’t been solved. He never became a cop, but stayed active in policing. His experience includes time with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services’ Policing Practices and Accountability Initiative during the Obama Administration.

James also has experience with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

“For over 20 years I’ve dedicated my professional career and community volunteering to build a stronger, safer community through collaboration,” he told the council.

Peter Miller, Bowie

Miller is a former police officer in the county who also has decades of experience in education. He’s been involved in both the D.A.R.E. program and a gang task force in the school system.

“The job of a police officer is extremely difficult, and sometimes we need to understand their mindset,” Miller told the council. “It doesn’t excuse some of the actions they do, and I will be there to hold them accountable for those things that are not a policy of the county or state.”

Linda Moghadam, Hyattsville

Moghadam is a former undergraduate director for the sociology department at the University of Maryland. The Hyattsville resident said she’s lived in the county all of her life, and now two of her daughters also live in the county.

“My experience with a large public institution — I also acknowledge that certainly the specific issues of a large public university and a large county police force are almost always different in the specific nature of the issues — but the processes are very much the same,” she said.

Diana Montero, Laurel

Montero is working on a doctorate degree focused on police accountability and diversity and inclusion within police departments. She said she’s been involved with training for Metro Transit and Maryland Transit police on matters of diversity and inclusion.

“What I believe I would bring to the table is not just a pointing the finger at the police but letting them know how necessary they are to society as a whole,” she told the council.

Earl O’Neal, Fort Washington

O’Neal is a member of the South County Economic Development Association as well as several other organizations in southern Prince George’s County, including ones that are involved with younger residents.

“I have helped grow true partnership with our community in Prince George’s County,” he told the council. “… If I’m appointed, I will help to bring a culture of accountability with law enforcement so the voices of the county feel heard. But conversely I’d like to ensure that law enforcement doesn’t just hear from the community when things go wrong. We must be proactive in our collaboration and anticipate trends happening within the community to be sure that the community is safe.”

Amity Pope, Capitol Heights

Pope is a co-founder of PG ChangeMakers, an advocacy group in the county that addresses issues involving police accountability. She’s also worked with crime victims around the county.

“I will compel my peers to think in ways that reimagine humanity through an equity lens,” Pope said.

Chelsea Prax, University Park

Prax now works in public health, but was a founding programs director for children’s health at the American Federation of Teachers. In the past, she said, she’s worked on school gun violence and other matters involving economic and psychosocial issues.

“I believe strong communities are a product of people showing up and sharing their gifts,” Prax told the council.

Lisa Price, Fort Washington

Price has been involved in the nonprofit 4Ever United, which has been active around the county. The mother of two said her first encounter with a county police officer was negative, but she didn’t let that define her perceptions about police officers and policing.

“Good policing means safety. Good policing means security. Good policing means competence in every sense of the word,” Price said.

“But in negligence we find despair. Many Americans are disproportionately victimized by the kind of official misconduct warranting the necessary police accountability board of which I seek appointment to advance positive actions toward racial justice and equality. Safety and security is necessary, or else we have chaos and lawlessness.”

Ernest Quarles, Mitchellville

Quarles is a civil rights activist who serves on the board of the African American Policy Forum, a think tank that works on issues of race and justice. He also serves as a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“If you can’t see a problem, you can’t frame it. And if you can’t frame it, you can’t resolve it,” Quarles told the council. “Our existing legal systems and infrastructures have failed us frequently, but not necessarily because of desire or effort. My hope and my service on the PAB is to have us open a few pages in our social justice hymnals and pause to consider how we might play our parts differently or at least more clearly.”

Carlo Sanchez, Takoma Park

A former state delegate who served in the Langley Park area of Prince George’s County, Sanchez touts his experience on relevant state legislative committees as well as his public safety work at Montgomery College.

He’s also served on the PGPD District 1 Community Advisory Council and has worked to do outreach with the county’s Spanish-speaking community.

“The legislative experience that I’ve been able to have would be able to bring a lot of insight, experience — and I think would be a benefit to the PAB,” Sanchez said.

Tamika Springs, Bowie

Springs is an equal employment specialist at the Department of Commerce, after holding a similar role with the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department. As a litigating attorney, she’s also worked for D.C.’s Office of the Attorney General. There, her work sometimes involved police misconduct and disciplinary hearings with D.C. police.

“I do have experience with police officers as far as misconduct and suspensions and terminations and things like that,” Springs told the council.

Felicia Taylor, Cheverly

Taylor is a senior ethics officer for the National Institutes of Health.

“I truly believe in the process,” Taylor said. “I believe in the council’s mission and the goals and providing excellence in management and practices for staff, community partners and our constituents.”

Joseph Tolbert, Capitol Heights

Tolbert is a paralegal who describes himself as having a passion for civil rights. He is involved with DC Central Kitchen and Justice Task Force, as well as We The People of PG County.

“I’m very vocal. I’m very involved in my community. Any time there’s some form of injustice I’m probably one of the first ones on the front line,” Tolbert told the council. “What I can bring to the board is an unbiased perspective on any given situation that we may be faced with. I am a returning citizen who has found his way with getting his life together, getting back on track.”

Sonia Wiggins Pruitt, Laurel

Pruitt is a retired Montgomery County police officer who left the department as the first ever Black female captain in the department. She ended her 28-year career in the Office of Community Engagement and Outreach.

Today, she’s an adjunct lecturer at Howard University’s Department of Sociology and Criminology. She’s also a former chair of The National Black Police Association and the founder of The Black Police Experience. She also worked with state lawmakers on police reforms.

“I have a reputation for professionalism,” she said. “I can’t make promises about what I might think day to day, but I have a lot of policing knowledge and I’m a straight talker.”

Two other candidates —Saleem Mateen and Herbert Lacy — did not appear as scheduled.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up