Photo Credits: WRC/NBC4 Washington (via Tracee Wilkins).
LA PLATA, Md. — A second investigation of inappropriate behavior has begun at the Maryland State Police barracks in La Plata.
This past February, the La Plata barracks were under fire for naming their weekend crime prevention initiative, “Make Waldorf Great Again.” On May 21, 2021, it was brought to the attention of the Maryland State Police Command Staff that a “challenge coin” was created to commemorate the initiative.
The coin has the Maryland State Police’s emblem on the front with the words “Make Waldorf Great Again” around the edges. The back of the coin has the statistics from the operation. During the initiative, police issued 57 traffic citations, 185 warnings, and 28 safety equipment repair orders.
The first investigation occurred because many black troopers complained about the name of the initiative. When black troopers made it known to the Legislative Maryland Black Caucus that they felt underrepresented in the department, disciplined harsher, and discriminated against.
According to statistics provided by the Maryland State Police, black troopers make up less than 12% of the overall department. Black troopers have also been disciplined at a higher rate than white troopers. The coin that has prompted the second investigation was allegedly created after the first investigation began.
In February, the Charles County NAACP released a press release about the initiative. The press release read, “The Maryland State Police covers the entire state of Maryland. Yet, the event highlighted the one city in Charles County with the highest percentage of African American citizens. Moreover, for the state police to decide to focus their crime initiatives only on Waldorf perpetuates the narrative that only Waldorf has issues with crime.”
In April, Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Jerry Jones went before the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland to discuss the changes he would be making to address concerns of racism in the department. Those changes included more outreach to increase confidence in the Office of Fair Practices, a new equal-employment-opportunity-qualified office director to oversee the office that handles discipline, and creating a committee to oversee the selection process for specialty units to ensure diversity.
During the meeting with the MSP Superintendent, State Senator Joanne Benson[D-Prince George’s] discussed numerous issues that were brought to her attention from Black troopers throughout the overall department. . At the time she asked for a meeting between Black troopers and the Superintendent.
When asked about the current progress being made in regards to the environment for the troopers and if that meeting took place, Senator Benson told TheBayNet.com, “The practice and behavior of our state police continues to be deep and very concerning. The acts administered not only with the State Police but our police in general. Ocean City sheds another light on the subject. We did meet with the State Superintendent with a promise of investigation and feedback. For the Black Caucus, the only way to seek real justice is through the United States Department of Justice. That seems to be the only way to solve this lingering problem. We will be meeting to discuss this approach.”
A representative from the Maryland State Police told TheBayNet.com, “Both investigations by the Maryland State Police Internal Affairs Division are continuing. The first one initiated is further along than the second, which began less than two weeks ago. However, both administrative investigations remain open and are ongoing.”
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