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PGPD Chief: Post Editorial on Student Beating 'Misleading'

In a letter to the Washington Post, Mark Magaw argues that a recent editorial exaggerated the facts of a 2010 UMD beating case.

Last month's Washington Post editorial criticizing the Prince George's County Police Department for its handling of a 2010 student beating case was "exaggerated and misleading," Police Chief Mark Magaw wrote in a letter published Sunday.

Magaw's submission came in response to a Dec. 28 piece ("Prince George’s police get away with a beating") in which the editorial board condemned two officers caught on tape hitting University of Maryland student John J. McKenna in College Park.

The incident occurred during the unruly aftermath of a victory over Duke by the UMD men's basketball team.

But the board reserved its harshest criticism for those who oversaw the official response to the incident, accusing the PGPD of engaging "in a conspiracy of silence and coverup."

"In the end, one of the officers got off scot-free; the other was given a slap on the wrist; and no higher-ups in the police department were called to account," the editorial read.

In reply, Magaw wrote that the Post had misrepresented the department's response, arguing that the incident "served to define a future of shared responsibility for our police department and the University of Maryland."

"What happened to John J. McKenna was wrong. The involved police officers were identified, indicted and prosecuted," Magaw said, outlining several of the investigative and procedural steps taken by the PGPD after the beating.

"Our shared commitment of mutual accountability is anything but indifferent," he added.

Read the full letter here.

michael mcardle January 08, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Mark Magaw has been an outstanding Chief of the Prince George's County Police Department. The Washington Post editorial in question concurred, exculpating him personally - as well as his professionalism and his leadership - from the criticism leveled against the Department. But effective leadership means you have to be willing to take on the mantle of the organization that you represent, whether you personally agree with and support every decision and decision maker down the organizational line. Chief Magaw did just that; it is regrettable the Washington Post editorial board members involved in this editorial did not. As spokespersons for what used to be the Newspaper of Record for the Washington, D.C. Metro area (in addition to its national role), they let the paper - and the public - down in this matter by the hysterical tone of the editorial, as well as the glaring inaccuracies. It does suggest personal viewpoints and experience got in the way of their leadership role in this particular instance.

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