By Mayor Colin Byrd
(GREENBELT, MD – February 5, 2021) – While I am grateful that the county finally parted ways with Chief Hank Stawinski last year, I am deeply concerned about County Executive Alsobrooks’s lack of transparency about his resignation and about what led to his resignation. Specifically, I am concerned about the county’s decision to not release to the public details from the expert report that led to his resignation. The content and names of officers identified in the report are very important, especially in light of the fact that, apparently, some of the officers implicated in the report are and were currently or formerly in leadership positions within PGPD.
There is extraordinary public interest in the county’s police department for multiple key reasons, including 1) the expert report and lawsuit that led to Stawinski’s resignation; and 2) the fact that the county paid a $20 million settlement to the family of William Green in connection with the January 27th, 2020 PGPD killing of Mr. Green, which occurred on Chief Stawinski’s watch. This was one of America’s largest one-time settlements involving someone killed by law enforcement. To further put it into context, the county’s settlement with Mr. Green’s family was roughly 67% higher than the $12 million settlement paid by Louisville to the family of Breonna Taylor, whose name became one of the most prominent national symbols of the Black Lives Matter movement last year.
Instead of leveling with the people of Prince George’s County about racism and misconduct in the department, the county has been stonewalling the state’s attorney, the NAACP, Community Justice, and the National Action Network, all of whom are requesting the full report.
The fact that the county seems to want to wait for a court order to compel them to release the report is reminiscent of Rahm Emanuel’s infamous refusal to release the LaQuan McDonald footage until a court ordered him to do so.
If the county executive is serious about remedying the extraordinarily costly deficiencies in PGPD, has to be more transparent about the expert report on PGPD racism and misconduct that led to Chief Stawinski’s resignation — a report that includes the names of officers who have been accused of biased or discriminatory behavior and that identifies 19 officers with more than 30 use-of-force incidents on their record.
The county executive needs to immediately release the full report, and the county needs to release information on any payouts that the county made to Chief Stawinski as part of his resignation.