A controversial new system of defining jobs and awarding promotions that was the centerpiece of ex-chief Robert J. diGrazia's efforts to revamp the Montgomery County Police Department is being radically overhauled by his temporary successor.
DiGrazia's "career development program" was approved in final form after four years of study on the day he was fired. Highly unpopular within the department, it has been drastically revised -- in draft form -- by his temporary successor in an effort to satisfy disgruntled rank-and-file police officers.
The proposed revision would restore the military ranks and supervisory positions that diGraza wanted to eliminate and would remove what many officers had criticized as excessive use of civilians in the department.
In fact, the new plan recommends the abandonment of the name of the system -- the "career development" program -- because the concept has become so repugnant to the police officers that they "basically distrust the name... and everything associated with it," according to a copy of the revisions. The proposed revision calls for renaming the system the "Police Personnel Management System" or another "appropriate" title.
DiGrazia, who came to Montgomery two years ago with a national reputation as an in innovator and preached that police officers should be "social workers who carry guns," was fired Dec. 7 by new county executive Charles W. Gilchrist who had found "disturbing morale" problems in the department during his campaign.
Within three days of taking office, Gilchrist said he had concluded the controversial chief "was no longer effective" in part because of his persistent disparaging remarks about police officers and the votes of "no confidence" in him by the rank and file.
In his place, Gilchrist appointed as acting chief Maj. Donald E. Brooks, a reserved veteran whom diGrazia once tried to fire, and directed the department to "get out of this circus-like atmosphere and back to work."
During his campaign, Gilchrist demanded "a complete redraft of the career development program," and specifically cited its "downgrading of the basic function of the police... the severe disruption of the rank system, and the shift to civilian personnel."
Gilchrist said that diGrazia had gone too far in his efforts to update the force by cutting back on the number of top-level officers, and lower-level supervisory positions and by replacing the military titles the men were used to with titles like "police supervisor" and "police manager."
"We have overdone it," Gilchrist said.
In response to the "expressed dissatisfaction of the troops," Brooks said that the new executive asked him to review the career development plan "and take into account the expressed concerns of the officers."
Lt. Mickey Desmond, one of several police officers who worked actively for Gilchrist's election, was assigned immediately to the task of reviewing the plan and he presented a draft three weeks later.
Actually, the disputed career development concept was in the process of being designed when diGrazia took over in 1976. He added its more controversial aspects however -- the wider use of civilians, the abandonment of the military classifications and the elimination of what he called needless "top brass."
In finally approving the plan Dec. 7, the county's personnel board praised it for its "modern management perspective."
Desmond said the revision is a "balance" between the traditional system diGrazia inherited and the radical tampering he tried.
Other county officials familiar with both, however, charged that the Desmond proposal was the "same old thing" that was in effect before diGrazia.
Desmond's proposal leaves intact the job classifications "police officer, police supervisor and police manager" but recommends the simultaneous use of "rank titles" as an "important part of recognition and self esteem."
It removes the civilians only" specifications for about 30 positions because officers complained that these positions were impediments to their upward mobility.
The revision also restores several high-level ranks, which officers wanted because they increased their promotional opportunities, and permits some promotions on a noncompetitive basis.
Desmond said he believes the plan "directly resolves" some of Gilchrist's concerns and "these are the kinds of things we've been concentrating on."