- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 12, 2002

ANNAPOLIS The president of the Prince George's County police union has told state lawmakers that Prince George's police officers will stop doing their jobs if State's Attorney Jack Johnson is elected county executive in November.
"I can tell you that if Jack Johnson becomes county executive, police activity in Prince George's County will basically cease," Anthony Walker, president of the county's Fraternal Order of Police, told members of the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing Thursday.
"Mr. Walker, I respect you, but your comments about Jack Johnson have no basis and no place in a proceeding like this," said Delegate David M. Valderamma, Prince George's County Democrat.
The exchange came during a hearing on a proposal that would shorten from 10 to three the number of days that police officers accused of wrongdoing have to secure an attorney before being deposed.
Mr. Johnson, the county's chief prosecutor and a Democrat candidate for county executive, said he was a taken aback by the union leader's statement but was not entirely surprised.
"Mr. Walker's comment shows the FOP is out of contact with the good officers who want to reform the department," said Mr. Johnson. "My comments over the years have been directed at the few [rogue officers]. Over the years, as I have dealt with the issue of abuse, the FOP has not been helpful."
Mr. Johnson, who has begun several investigations into police brutality, said it is up to police union members to decide what kind of leader they want.
Police union officials have accused Mr. Johnson of grandstanding and unfairness in his criticism and investigation of officers in recent years.
Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, a Democrat who is barred by term limits from running for re-election, did not return calls for comment.
Interim police Chief Gerald M. Wilson declined to comment. Chief Wilson, former commander of the department's patrol division, said recently that more than 90 percent of the department's officers are doing a good job.
County Council member James Estepp, another of several Democrats seeking to succeed Mr. Curry, said Mr. Walker was probably just expressing his "emotion" and "frustration."
"Irrespective of who's elected, most officers are going to do their jobs," said Mr. Estepp, who was the county's public safety director before he was elected to the council in 1994. "They might be disappointed, depending on who gets elected."
Mr. Johnson leads the field in fund raising, but police and firefighters flanked Mr. Estepp at a public meeting with Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend two weeks ago and are expected to take an active role in the election.


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