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Maryland State Police address racism allegations, make changes

Apr 29, 2021 | Discrimination

Reacting to pressure from Maryland General Assembly members, the state police have implemented changes addressing allegations of racism, discrimination and retaliation within the department. On April 9, the Maryland State Police department announced changes related to oversight, promotions and discipline after discussions over the past two months with members of the state’s Black legislative caucus who cited cultural problems within the department.

As far back as 2017, Black state troopers – who comprise less than 12% of the force – complained that discrimination related to promotions, disciplinary measures and hiring occurred on a continuous basis. For example, Black troopers received a higher rate of discipline than troopers who are white. Also, a Black trooper reported that white troopers left a banana on his patrol vehicle, claiming they were simply providing him with lunch.

Improved oversight, new roles created

Lawmakers who are part of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland demanded changes and met with Col. Woodrow Jones, secretary of the Maryland State Police. During their final meeting, Jones outlined changes designed to provide some sort of resolution.

Some of the changes include:

  • Creating the role of a new director to lead the office responsible for discipline at the department
  • Creation of a committee responsible for selecting special unit members in order to ensure diversity. Division commanders of the state patrol previously managed that role.
  • A national police association will review the department’s disciplinary measures, promotion policies and recruitment efforts.

Black troopers alleged underrepresentation on the force, racism and discrimination related to disciplinary actions. While discipline against white officers dropped between 2018 and 2020, statistics confirmed that discipline of Black officers increased during that same time.