By Lynh BuiAugust 7 at 7:36 PM
Two Prince George’s County police commanders have been removed from their posts for implementing an unauthorized program that rewarded officers with time off for increased enforcement.
Prince George’s County Police Chief Hank Stawinski said Wednesday that he ended the program that had been operating in one of the county’s seven stations after learning about it on July 26 and launching an investigation.
“I ended this program because I know that it has the potential to erode the public’s trust in the men and women of this institution,” Stawinski said. “I don’t agree with it. It is not the appropriate manner to professionally police in 2019.”
Stawinski said the program had been in place for the past six months in District 2, which lies in the eastern portion of the county roughly between Interstate 495 and Anne Arundel County.
Stawinski did not name the two commanders who are being transferred but said new leadership is in place at the station that serves communities including Bowie, Greenbelt, Upper Marlboro, Mitchellville and Lanham.
The program was not a quota system, and officers were not asked to come in with a certain number of citations, warnings, arrests, stops or enforcement actions, Stawinski said. Instead, the most productive officer in each of the station’s 10 squads received 10 hours of compensatory time each month, Stawinski said. Productivity included citations, warnings, arrests, stops and other actions, Stawinski said.
It is unclear how much compensatory time was given to officers, police spokeswoman Jennifer Donelan said.
After a review of internal affairs complaints, there did not appear to be any citizen complaints related to the incentive program, Stawinski said.
The program appeared to be ineffective, he said.
Every police station in the county has seen a drop in overall crime this year, but crime has fallen the least in District 2, where there has been a 10.8 percent drop. The average decline in crime year to date is about 17 percent countywide, Donelan said.
In District 2, the crime rate fluctuated between January and July, Stawinski said. Although crime in the district fell consistently in the spring through summer, that was the case for all county stations after the department implemented a program to target property crimes, Stawinski said.
Such incentive programs are not illegal, and Stawinski said he does not think the District 2 program was implemented maliciously. But he ended the program fearing that it created the perception that officers were acting in their own interests, he said.