- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

The embattled Prince Georges County, Md., police chief is standing behind his record and wont apologize for holding his officers accountable for their conduct despite an overwhelming "no-confidence" vote passed by the police union yesterday.
Before the voting was complete, Chief John S. Farrell called a news conference to say the outcome of the secret-balloting will have "no impact on the way I do things." About 92 percent of participating union members or 971 of 1,058 came out against him.
The Fraternal Order of Police, which tabled a similar action last year, believes the chief hasnt shown enough support for his officers, most recently when University of Maryland students ran amok College Park after a basketball game last month.
In the aftermath of the riot, Chief Farrell told the community his officers could have done more to prevent some of the damage. Union chief Cpl. John "Rodney" Bartlett said Chief Ferrell should do more to defend his officers when they are criticized.
Hundreds of students tore down lampposts, lit bonfires, ripped down fences and even stole gasoline from residents sheds after the Duke Blue Devils defeated the Maryland Terrapins in the NCAA basketball tournament semifinal March 31.
Students also threw rocks, bottles and other items at Prince Georges County firefighters as they tried to extinguish dozens of fires. Damage was estimated at about $500,000.
Police made no arrests that night, but four students have been charged since for their role in the mayhem.
Earlier yesterday, Chief Farrell told WTTG-TV (Channel 5): "A police department is a family. There is room for differences of opinion, theres no question about it. But my job as chief of police is not only to protect the community, but to hold police officers accountable for their conduct."
In more than five years with the Prince Georges County Police Department, Chief Farrell has implemented new policies, accelerated reform and created more rigorous training standards.
He has won praise for adding 200 officers to the force, analyzing and mapping crime trends, improving cooperation with federal and state law enforcement agencies, upgrading technology and garnering more than $20 million in grants.
But despite all the accolades, the department has been fighting an unwanted reputation as a force that tolerates police brutality, practices racial discrimination and profiling and is quick to fire upon suspects. The department is under investigation by the Justice Department for possible civil rights violations.
Officers have shot 12 persons during the past two years. Five died. Officer Brian Catlett, who is white, was indicted for shooting Gary Hopkins Jr., an unarmed black man, but a county judge this year found the officer not guilty on all charges.
Shortly after that trial, a federal judge dismissed charges that former county Detective Brian Rich covered up a police-dog attack on a Hispanic man. Two more officers charged in the case go to trial a second time this summer.
In perhaps the most widely publicized case, charges were never filed against Carlton Jones, a black detective who fatally shot black Howard University student Prince C. Jones Jr., in Fairfax County on Sept. 1.
The chief waited several days to issue a statement about the shooting.
"Our greatest disappointment is with the chief, that he chose not to give a statement," Cpl. Bartlett told The Washington Times in an earlier interview. "Its pretty bad when the officer gets hung out to dry like that."
Chief Farrell and County Executive Wayne K. Curry staved off criticism in September by announcing several changes, including the appointment of former FBI agent Roy Washington as civilian deputy chief responsible for overseeing police conduct. The union decided not to follow through on a no-confidence vote after the chief met with some members who insisted he did not back them during the public scrutiny.
Audrey Scott, vice chairman of the Prince Georges County Council, said she is concerned about the morale of the 1,400 officers, but feels it is an issue for the rank and file and their chief to sort out.
"Weve had a very good working relationship with Chief Farrell. Hes been very responsive," said Mrs. Scott, Bowie Republican. "Were very concerned and hope that whatever differences, real or imagined, can be resolved."
* This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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