Feds to investigate Maryland State Police hiring practices

Jul 15, 2022, 11:07 AM | Updated: Jul 17, 2022, 8:27 am
FILE - Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke speaks at a news conference at th...

FILE - Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington, on Aug. 5, 2021. The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the Maryland State Police to determine if the agency engaged in racially discriminatory hiring and promotion practices, federal prosecutors announced Friday, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

The U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the Maryland State Police to determine if the agency engaged in racially discriminatory hiring and promotion practices, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Word of the investigation follows a series of complaints from Black troopers about harassment and mistreatment by fellow white officers, concerns that drew the attention of a Maryland state legislator last year.

“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 reforms necessary to ensure equal employment opportunities.”

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland State Police Superintendent Col. Woodrow W. Jones III have been informed and pledged cooperation with the investigation, the news release said.

“Significant actions have been taken and are continuing to address even the perception of racism or unfair treatment of any kind,” Jones said in a statement issued Friday afternoon.

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

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

In 2021, Maryland State Sen. Joanne Benson of Prince George’s County said Black troopers accused the agency of racism and discrimination, pointing to disparities in discipline and promotions, as well as underrepresentation and allegations of instances of retaliation.

Benson met with more than 20 Black troopers who presented her with documents detailing their claims, WRC in Washington reported in February 2021. The television station did not identify the troopers because those who spoke out are violating department policy.

“They had the paperwork. They had the proof,” Benson said. “They had done their homework relative to the incidents that have occurred and the problems they were experiencing.”

Benson said Friday afternoon that the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus has been trying to draw attention to the problem of racism and discrimination within the state police for at least eight years. She said that after there was no significant progress, some of the troopers decided to take their case to the Department of Justice.

“What they have done to African American state troopers … has been shameful,” Benson said. “The discipline, the unfair suspensions, the terminations, the way that they discipline the African American state troopers over the white ones has just been unbelievable.”

Statistics provided by Maryland State Police and reported by WRC showed Black officers make up 8.9% of high-ranking commissioned officers and 11% of the agency’s non-commissioned officers, with very few rising to lieutenants.

Clarke F. Ahlers, a Maryland attorney who is representing Black troopers in several lawsuits against the state police, said he welcomes the Justice Department investigation.

“My belief is that the Maryland State Police have engaged in an unfortunate process of discriminating against troopers 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’s had four cases in the last five years that “screamed of discrimination” by the agency, although none was directly related to hiring or promotions. One of them involved a case which went in the favor of the trooper, who, Ahlers said, is still dealing with harassment from the department.

In another case, Ahlers said he represented a Black trooper who used minimal force in arresting a motorist. He and other officers involved were cleared in the incident. Afterward, a white trooper left a banana on the Black trooper’s car, Ahlers said.

The Black trooper complained about that act, and after he refused to withdraw the complaint, he was indicted for first-degree assault for the use of force, Ahlers said. The charge was eventually dropped by the State’s Attorney’s Office. As for the initial complaint about the banana being placed on his car, Maryland State Police said it had nothing to do with race, according to Ahlers.

___

The spelling of Clarke F. Ahlers’ first name has been corrected.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

China cuts interest rate to shore up sagging economy

BEIJING (AP) — China’s central bank trimmed a key interest rate Monday to shore up sagging economic growth at a politically sensitive time when President Xi Jinping is believed to be trying to extend his hold on power. The ruling Communist Party effectively acknowledged last month it can’t hit this year’s official 5.5% growth target […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

3 injured in shooting at amusement park near Chicago

GURNEE, Ill. (AP) — Three people were injured late Sunday in a shooting at an amusement park north of Chicago. Three people were hurt in a parking lot outside Six Flags Great America in Gurnee when shots were fired from a vehicle, according to a spokesperson for the park, which is located about 45 miles […]
21 hours ago
A motorist pumps gasoline at United Oil gas station in Los Angeles Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. The avera...
Associated Press

Average US gasoline price falls 45 cents to $4.10 per gallon

CAMARILLO, Calif. (AP) — The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline plummeted 45 cents over the past three weeks to $4.10 per gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the continued decline comes as crude oil costs also remain low. “The drop of a dollar per gallon has not been […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Actress Anne Heche poses for a portrait in Park City, Utah on  Jan. 21, 2012.  Heche, who fi...
Associated Press

Anne Heche, star with troubled life, dies of crash injuries

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anne Heche, the Emmy-winning film and television actor whose dramatic Hollywood rise in the 1990s and accomplished career contrasted with personal chapters of turmoil, died of injuries from a fiery car crash. She was 53. Heche was “peacefully taken off life support,” spokeswoman Holly Baird said in a statement Sunday night.. […]
21 hours ago
FILE - An iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. Facebook failed to detect...
Associated Press

Strike four: Facebook misses election misinfo in Brazil ads

Facebook failed to detect blatant election-related misinformation in ads ahead of Brazil’s 2022 election, a new report from Global Witness has found, continuing a pattern of not catching material that violates its policies the group describes as “alarming.” The advertisements contained false information about the country’s upcoming election, such as promoting the wrong election date, […]
21 hours ago
A Japanese flag flutters at the Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo on July 29, 2022. Japan’s eco...
Associated Press

Japan ekes out growth as consumers splurge amid COVID surge

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s economy grew at an annual rate of 2.2% for the April-June quarter from the previous quarter, the government said Monday, as consumer spending rebounded with COVID-19 restrictions getting gradually lifted. Japan’s gross domestic product, or GDP, the sum of the value of a nation’s products and services, expanded 0.5% from January-March, […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Feds to investigate Maryland State Police hiring practices