PGPD chief Hank Stawinski speaks out on police reform, budgets

Prince George's County Police Chief Hank Stawinski spoke to FOX 5 Wednesday amid calls to defund police and a national conversation on reform spurred by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd's killing by a police officer.

Stawinski supported the idea proposed by County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to reroute money for a police training facility to build one which can treat mental health and addiction. Alsobrooks asked the county council to vote to redirect $20 million dollars in November.

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Stawinski also went a step further, saying he'd be open to conversations about having PGPD's budget further reduced incrementally, to fund services police currently respond to, but for which they don't have the expertise like addiction, mental health and homelessness.

FOX 5 also asked the chief about the rollout of body cameras for the department, which currently does not have all officers wearing one.

According to Stawinski, there have been problems with the supply chain for the equipment due to COVID-19, but he said all officers who interact with the public will have the cameras by the end of 2020.

RELATED: Prince George's County officer charged in deadly shooting of handcuffed man inside police cruiser

If officer Michael Owen would have been wearing a body camera it may have captured the shooting of William Green in January. Police say, Owen, who had shot two other people previously, shot Green seven times while he was handcuffed in a police cruiser. The case is pending court action.

Stawinski has also pushed for a proposed Maryland bill, HB 1212, which would make serious complaints against officers' public records.

"The laws as they currently exist have an unintended consequence which is that it shields bad actors from public scrutiny," said Stawinski.

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He also supports reform of the Law Enforcement Officer's Bill of Rights, which would increase transparency, reduce timelines for officer discipline, and give chiefs more discretion to suspend officers without pay.

Stawinski does not support removing officers from schools or calls to abolish police.

"The argument of abolish the police I think is a non starter because at the end of the day, it was just six months ago that we were talking about adding more school resource officers because of the school shooting phenomenon. We see active shooters across our country. We see people conducting themselves on a roadway that’s making people unsafe," he said.

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