History of the Prince George's County Police Department

Photo of police circa 1927

Prior to 1927, Prince George's County had no organized police force. The County was policed by a handful of part-time volunteer deputy sheriffs and constables. However, with the start of urbanization in the County, the 200-year-old sheriff/constable law enforcement system broke down and the County government set in motion a series of events that led to the formation of a four-man County police force. This was reorganized in 1931 and placed the County's force of now eleven officers under the command of a police chief who was appointed by the County Commissioners.

Chiefs of Police
Mark A. Magaw 2010 - 2015
Roberto Hylton 2008 - 2010
Melvin C. High 2003 - 2008
Gerald M. Wilson 2002 - 2003
John S. Farrell 1995 - 2002
David B. Mitchell 1990 - 1995
Michael J. Flaherty 1983 - 1989
John E. McHale, Jr. 1979 - 1983
John W. Rhoads 1975 - 1979
Roland B. Sweitzer, Sr. 1971 - 1975
Vincent S. Free 1968 - 1971
George J. Panagoulis 1955 - 1968
Vincent S. Free 1953 - 1955
F. Allen Richards 1951 - 1953
Ralph W. Brown 1943 - 1951
Arthur W. Hepburn 1937 - 1943
Jeremiah Crowley 1931 - 1937
Sheriff Charles Early 1927 - 1931

The small County police department found it extremely difficult to keep pace with the demands being posed by an ever-increasing urban population. In the 20 year time period between 1930 and 1950, the County's population had exploded from 60,095 to 194,182 residents. Records show that in 1951, the recently enlarged Department was made up of 48 officers who were responsible for delivering service to those County residents.

During the 1950's and 1960's the Department slowly continued to expand and modernize. A new police station was opened in Seat Pleasant, the first building in the County's history to be built exclusively for police use. The first female police officer was hired on the Department in 1961. Special units were created during this timeframe to handle crimes involving vice, fraud, and juvenile offenses. New uniform patrol service included a K-9 unit, a Tactical Squad and a Traffic Safety Unit.

In 1970, records show the Department consisted of 602 officers and 189 civilian employees. Prince George's County had also become Maryland's most populous county at this time.

The decade of the 1980's would prove to be a time period where the Police Department would be given a chance to catch its breath. The County's population had started to level off in the mid 1970's and it appeared as if the population rate would peak at approximately 665,000 people.

In the late 1970's, substantial accomplishments had been made towards the modernization of police equipment and facilities. In 1998, the Department's 960 officers and 300 civilian support personnel were working out of six district police stations, a headquarters facility, a special operations building, a centralized office for personnel assigned to specialized criminal investigations, and a combined records/communications center. Two new major police facilities were also under construction. In 1988, the Department responded to 387,092 calls for service throughout the County.

1931 - new cars

Generally speaking, police work has never been an easy task. In Prince George's County, the task had been made more difficult by the 1100 percent increase in the County population during the 50-year period between 1930 and 1980. The path toward big time urbanization has created a host of unique challenges for both the public and the police. During the Department's 74-year history a total of 22 police officers have made the ultimate sacrifice and given their lives in the line of duty.

Today, the Prince George's County Police Department serves approximately 800,000 citizens throughout the County. In 2001, the Department answered close to 500,000 calls for service. Our Department currently has a an authorized strength of 1,420 officers and 263 civilians.

County Click 311

Allows Users To:

  • Browse Through Questions And Answers In Various Categories
  • Enter Requests For Service
  • Track Status of Service Requests
Subscribe MYPGC