Prince George’s County took a step closer on Tuesday to creating the majority black jurisdiction’s first police accountability board.
The county council met as a committee of the whole and gave preliminary approval to five nominees submitted by county executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) for this council.
These nominees are Sheila F. Bryant, Kelvin Davall, Lafayette Melton, Marsha Ridley and Daniel Vergamini. Davall is Alsobrooks’ choice to serve as chairman of the board.
Under an agreement this summer with the county council, Alsobrooks can appoint a sixth person to sit on the 11-member council.
Miriam Brewer, an appointments liaison with the county executive’s office, said the sixth person Alsobrooks chose to serve was a member of the Latino community, but left the county. She said the office hopes to conclude the selection of a new person from this community within the next two weeks.
The council selects the other five members of the accountability council.
County residents submitted nominations, and the county executive and council held separate online public sessions in September for candidates to pitch their case for a spot on the board.
The Police Accountability Committee will replace the county’s Citizen Complaints Oversight Committee, which was abolished in July. Davall, Ridley and Vergamini were part of this panel.
Vergamini said the accountability committee would allow for a comprehensive assessment of models and procedures within county and municipal police departments.
He said the former committee looked at complaints filed by police officers as well as those filed against the police. Under the new structure, he said the internal affairs division of a law enforcement agency would assess police referrals or complaints.
“Only external referrals or complaints from citizens will be looked at, so that’s something that maybe we could look at, we can look at how we can look at that,” Vergamini said.
Council member Todd Turner (D) said the structure of the accountability council was established by the legislature last year and “we must comply with state law.”
Each of the 23 counties and the city of Baltimore can set the number of people who sit on the police board and an administrative charging panel that will recommend whether an officer should be disciplined.
The indictment committee can also issue summonses. An officer may appeal a decision to a local trial board, to be established in each jurisdiction.
The Council also gave preliminary approval to two of the county executive nominees — Natalie L. Stephenson and William T. “Bill” Scott — to serve on the five-member charging committee.
Stephenson works as an educator in county public schools and served on the Citizen Complaints Oversight Committee last year.
Scott, a Marine Corps veteran, works as a service manager performing security and risk assessments for ABS Group, which provides services to government and industry.
Once established, the Police Accountability Board would appoint two more members to the charging committee and the chairman of the board would select a fifth member.
The council plans to meet and possibly vote on its nominees for the accountability council on October 18.
A public hearing on the county executive nominees is scheduled for Oct. 24.
To be nominated, nominees must receive final board approval.
Alsobrooks extends youth curfew
The developments at the Police Accountability Board came as Alsobrooks announced on Tuesday that enforcement of the county’s curfew for minors will be extended through the end of the year. Alsobrooks said it helped keep children safe and coincided with a drop in crime in the county.
When Alsobrooks announced tougher enforcement of the youth curfew on Labor Day, she said it would last 30 days but could be extended.
“Our curfew has succeeded in many ways, as we hoped,” Alsobrooks said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, after the initial 30-day period. “Not only have we engaged parents more deeply in our community, but we have also been able to provide greater protection for a number of our young people. »
The curfew requires teenagers under 17 to leave the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 11:59 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Under the curfew, parents can be fined if their children violate the curfew.
In the past 30 days, the police department has reported only four curfew violations. The incidents included a 16-year-old girl who was with another teenager who had been arrested for a gun and a 14-year-old who stole her mother’s car and was partying at 1:30 a.m., according to the authorities.
In each of the four offenses reported by the police, the parents received a warning, but were not fined. Alsobrooks said the families have also been offered resources through the Hope in Action coalition.
Overall crime fell 13% in the county during the period, including a 24% reduction in violent crime, Prince George’s County Police Chief Malik Aziz said Tuesday.
Specifically during nighttime curfew hours, the county saw a 20% drop in overall crime, a 59% drop in carjackings and a 50% drop in shootings, he said.
Officials acknowledged it was too early to attribute the drop in crime solely to the curfew.
“I think we would all agree that it’s probably premature to say that was the exact reason,” Alsobrooks said, pointing to other actions taken by the police department over the past 30 days, including hours additional additional. “But we are encouraged by the results we have seen.”
Jack Moore of WTOP News contributed to this report.