After Alton Sterling and Philando Castille were killed, I started writing. I wrote Prince George’s County Exec Rushern Baker and Prince George’s County Police Chief Harry Stawinski, III to discuss how I felt about the recent spate of citizen shootings by police officers. I am happy to report that I received responses from both. Exec Baker’s office reached out two days after they got my letter and put me in contact with Chief Stawinski’s Chief of Staff – Jacqueline Rafterry. I started a crazy travel schedule shortly after, but was finally able to hook up with Major Rafterry on Wednesday afternoon.
I’m now scheduled for a visit to the County’s training academy on August 26. I have in my possession the memorandum of agreement that the Police Department signed with the Justice Department in 2004 because of their prior bad behavior. I’m going to be posting about various activities and programs that the department has in place to facilitate communication and interaction with citizens.
My main goal is still hosting a town hall with police executives – Major Rafterry was open to this but we don’t have a firm commitment yet. I’ll definitely keep pushing.
I’ve also gotten independent confirmation that leadership at the Police Department is invested in training for their officers. James McGinty, Communications Director at the Police Executive Research Forum – an independent research organization that focuses on policing – confirmed that Chief Stawinski and members of his staff have been involved in use-of-force training initiatives PERF has hosted.
We’re making progress.
p.s. If you’d like to see if your police department is implementing use-of-force guidelines, check out these two publications by PERF. They’re lengthy, but the info is quite good.