By Mark F. Gray, Special to the AFRO, [email protected]
Prince George’s Police Chief Hank Stawinski put the handcuffs on an unauthorized incentive program that gave officers in one police district compensatory time based on how productive they were. While the program wasn’t illegal, Stawinski wanted to thwart the perception of impropriety in the department.
The program was apparently confined to the Bowie District II station, and was an incentive based program that involved writing citations and earning comp time based upon the number that were filed during a given shift. According to Stawinski, the unsanctioned arrangement had been going on for approximately six months and officers were rewarded for aggressive citationing.
“Briefly in the last six months, officers who were the most productive would receive 10 hours of compensatory time on a monthly basis,” Stawinski said at a press conference to announce the findings of this internal review. “It’s not the appropriate manner to professionally police in 2019.”
This secret incentives practice was executed through a plan where if a patrol squad had eight members and one officer wrote eight citations, another officer wrote seven, another six and going down the line- then the officer who wrote the most would get 10 hours of comp time. The program provided officers who produced the highest number of enforcement actions with compensatory time on a monthly basis.
According to Stawinski, the commander and assistant commander of District II station in Bowie had implemented the program for patrol officers without the approval of the chief. It was meant to incentivize the performance of the officers, it was not based on quotas. Their names of the supervising officers are not being released to the public due to state personnel law. According to Stawinski, they have accepted discipline and are being transferred to new assignments.
It’s not a quota-based system,” Stawinski said. “I apologize on behalf of this institution if this creates any concern.”
The investigation was conducted by the police department’s Internal Affairs Division. It didn’t reveal any citizen complaints regarding enforcement actions against officers in District II during the undiscovered six months that it was in effect. Stawinski also said he wasn’t aware of the unauthorized performance incentive program until July 26. Once he learned of the program, he immediately directed the two commanders of District II to discontinue the practice. The police chief also directed the deputy chiefs to convene their staff to ensure the unauthorized performance program was not being employed elsewhere in the agency.
Stawinski said that he is currently developing a policy that would prohibit any such programs in the future. Further, the department is publishing a policy specifically prohibiting such incentive programs.
However, the department has an incentive based program allowing officers to accrue compensatory time, based on good conduct. The police chief remains a proponent of programs like that because the public can’t conclude that an officer is acting in any official capacity in order to receive the reward.
“If an officer hasn’t had any internal affairs complaints, if they haven’t gotten any red-light tickets, they’re eligible to legitimately receive 30 hours of comp time,” Stawinski said.
Residents who are concerned about an interaction with a patrol officer in District II are being instructed to contact the office of Inspector General who provides independent oversight of its operations.