In July 1999, the U.S. Department of Justice [DOJ] initiated an investigation pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 14141 of alleged misconduct by the Canine Section of the Prince George's County Police Department [PGPD]. The investigation followed some eighteen civil rights lawsuits filed between 1993 through 1998 by individuals that alleged dog attacks by the PGPD's canine unit. In October 2000, the DOJ expanded the scope of its investigation to include broader allegations of excessive force. The DOJ and the FBI also launched a criminal investigation which resulted in the federal indictment of two PGPD officers on charges that they ordered a police dog to attack an unarmed homeless man. See U.S. v. Mohr, 318 F.3d 613 (4th Cir. 2003).
Following the DOJ's investigation, DOJ, PGPD and local FOP officials met and negotiated agreements to address all of the DOJ's concerns. The settlement agreements took the form of a Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] as to allegations of excessive force and a Consent Decree as to PGPD's Canine Section.
On January 22, 2004, the DOJ filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court District of Maryland (Greenbelt) along with a joint motion to lodge the proposed Consent Decree. On March 11, 2004, the District Court (Judge Roger W. Titus) approved and entered the Consent Decree.
The MOA and the Consent decree required widespread reform to PGPD's use of canines and force. The agreements required the PGPD to implement the following reform measures:
• revisions to use of force policies and training protocol, including documentation and review of all use of force incidents
• creation of a board to review all firearm discharges
• changes to the department's receipt, investigation and review of citizen complaints
• implemention of a guard and bark methodology for canines, thereby restricting the use of biting
• monitoring and review of all canine deployments and biting incidents
• appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance with the MOA.
Eduardo Gonzalez and the Alexander Group Independent Monitor Team (AG-IMT) were selected to serve as the independent monitor.
Both agreements were set to expire three years after their effective dates, provided that the PGPD had been in substantial compliance with all provisions for at least two years.
On February 2, 2007, the parties filed a joint motion to terminate the consent decree.
On February 12, 2007, the Court granted the motion stating that PGPD had a) complied fully with the consent decree, and b) eliminated the last vestiges of unlawful behavior and had thus satisfied the decree. Dan Dalton - 01/18/2007
Andrew Steiger - 02/11/2014