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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Open investigation into Fed Maryland state police recruitment practices

The US Justice Department has launched an investigation into the Maryland state police to determine whether the agency is engaging in racially discriminatory recruitment and promotion practices, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Word of the investigation follows a series of complaints from black soldiers about harassment and abuse by fellow white officers, concerns that attracted the attention of a Maryland state legislator last year.

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“Discrimination has no place in any workplace, and especially in law enforcement agencies,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release. “Our investigation will determine whether the Maryland Department of State Police has created racially discriminatory barriers for black people seeking job opportunities and promotions and, if so, identify the improvements needed to ensure equal employment opportunities.” Do it.”

The news release said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland State Superintendent of Police Colonel Woodrow W. Jones III have been informed and promised cooperation with the investigation.

“Significant action has been taken and continues to address perceptions of racism or any kind of unfair treatment,” Jones said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

Hogan’s office issued a statement calling the Maryland State Police “the best police organization in the country.” He said the state has committed funds to increase diversity and strengthen recruitment.

“It is important to ensure that any wrongdoing is addressed, so we welcome this investigation and have promised full cooperation,” said Michael Ricci, a spokesman for the governor’s office.

In 2021, Maryland State Sen. Joan Benson of Prince George’s County said that Black Troopers accused the agency of racism and discrimination, pointing to inequalities in discipline and promotion, as well as under-representation and accusations of retaliation. .

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Benson met with more than 20 black soldiers, who presented him with documents detailing their claims, as the WRC in Washington reported in February 2021. The television station did not identify the soldiers because those who spoke were in violation of department policy.

“They had the paperwork. He had proof,” Benson said. “They had done their homework relative to the incidents and the problems they were facing.”

The voice mailbox for Benson’s phone was full and he could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Data provided by the Maryland State Police and reported by the WRC showed that black officers make up 8.9 percent of high-ranking commissioned officers and 11 percent of the agency’s non-commissioned officers, with very few lieutenants.

Maryland attorney Clark F. Ahlers, who has been representing black soldiers in several lawsuits against state police, said he welcomes the Justice Department’s investigation.

“I believe the Maryland State Police has engaged in the unfortunate process of discriminating against soldiers of color,” Ahlers said.

“I would not need a Justice Department investigation to convince me of racial discrimination within the ranks of the Maryland State Police,” he said.

Ahlers said he has had four cases of “screams of discrimination” by the agency in the past five years, though none were directly related to hiring or promotions. One of them involved a case that went in favor of the soldier, which, Ahlers said, is still dealing with harassment from the department.

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In another case, Ahlers said he represented a black soldier who used minimal force to arrest a motorist. He and other officers associated with him were acquitted in the incident. Later, a white soldier left a banana on the black soldier’s car, Ahlers said.

Ahlers said the Black Trooper complained about that act, and when he refused to withdraw the complaint, he was charged with first-degree assault for the use of force. The charge was eventually dropped by the state attorney’s office. According to the Ahlers, to the initial complaint about the banana being placed on his car, Maryland State Police said it had nothing to do with race.

World Nation News Desk
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