The temporary replacement for ousted Montgomery County police chief Robert J. diGrazia says he likes being head of the 740-member police force so much that he might want the job permanently.
Acting Chief Donald E. Brooks, a 28-year-veteran of the force who was twice passed over for promotion within the senior ranks, has moved to eliminate the most experimental aspects of programs begun in diGrazia's controversial 25-month tenure.
Officers interviewed this week said that Brooks, a reserved 52-year-old major, has returned the department to the traditional patterns of policing that were followed before 1976 when diGrazia was appointed to the post with great fanfare and expectation.
At the time Montgomery County felt they might have the next FBI director, and diGrazia swept in from Boston optimistic that he could turn Montgomery's highly educated officers into social workers with guns.
But he never convinced enough officers that the department needed to be modernized.
Brooks, by contrast, said he will try to "gain a relatively high degree of acceptance from the troops" prior to starting any new program, "not just get all the information in and not take their views into account. This is what they thought was happening" under diGrazia, Brooks said.
"People like Brooks because he's been here a long time and he's known for being interested in the troops... Now we have somebody who's been around the department who will try to gear it to our needs rather than some national philosophy," said the association police president Cpl. Bob McKenna.
But a few officers -- still loyal to diGrazia -- have complained that Brooks' haste to change is "enough to make you sick."
Almost overnight, they say, Brooks revived the "clannish, good ole boy network" and began implementing "for political expediency" the changes advocated by County Executive Charles W. Gilchrist in his election campaign last fall.
Still, says officer Rick Nelson, things are a lot more predictable in the police station these days. No longer do the officers hear announcements from the chief's office about a new program being started. "They would be (about) innovative things and everybody would moan," Nelson said.
Officers say that Brooks has virtually abandoned the most innovative portions of diGrazia's programs.
He has asked that the training program diGrazia wanted and which the county approved the day he was fired, be revised to take some of the emphasis off its "human relations" training in sociology and psychology under the direction of civilian instructors.
He wants to use instructors from the FBI Academy for the human relations classes, rather than professors from American University.
The day after he became chief, Brooks directed an officer to revamp the controversial "career development program," advocated by diGrazia, to restore military ranks for officers and increase some top brass positions. These would have been eliminated under diGrazia's plan. Brooks' version of the program also eliminates what some officers called an "excessive" use of civilians.
The acting chief has also made clear that the sophisticated, innovative federally-funded law enforcement programs that diGrazia made a hallmark of his administration, will not be a top priority under his administration.
He has put on hold a $500,000 federally funded program aimed at helping officers bring more career criminals to prosecution. He says he doesn't have the manpower for the program, although nine civilian positions to implement the grant would be funded by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.
To strengthen his hand. Brooks, whom diGrazia once tried to fire, has put into powerful positions a group of officers who were shunned by the former chief. The "ins" under diGrazia are now the "outs," including Philip H. Marks diGrazia's top civilian aide, whose influence in the department has plummeted from "98 percent to 2 percent," according to a colleague.
Gilchrist appointed Brooks to be a temporary caretaker until a permanent chief was appointed. Since that time, the county executive has started no apparent search for a successor.
Meanwhile, Brooks, once firm about wanting to be called "major," now likes to be addressed as "chief" and objects to any inference that the county executive's office is now directing the police department.
Gilchrist's chief administrative officer, Robert Wilson, who believes in daily contact with his department heads, has been consulted every step of the way by Brooks.
In contrast to the gregarious, out-spoken diGrazia, Brooks is a sober, but cordial man who chooses his words cautiously, allowing long lapses between sentences. Even his hand gestures are slow and deliberate, almost measured.
He is only two years older than diGrazia. But with his wavy, silver hair and the facial creases, shaped like little stars, beneath his eyes, Brooks looks more like a traditional police chief than the frizzy-haired, modish diGrazia did.
Many of the younger officers have never met Brooks, whose been stationed at headquarters the past eight years. And impressions of Brooks vary from officer to officer. Officer Nelson called Brooks a "decent" man who "doesn't have a pompous attitude" and who believes officers should have lots of personal contact with the public.
But one private from Silver Spring recalled how Brooks seemed "very military" to him."His opinion is he's a ranking officer and I'm lucky to breath the same air as him."
Around headquarters, Brooks is known for his slow, often tedious approach to matters. Critics complain he is consumed by the minutiae of administrative detail, and refer to him as "Major Memo."
They also say he is unable to make decisions.
To this, Brooks responds, squinting his eyes and thrusting himself forward in his chair, as he does often when he's about to defend himself. "The thing you overlook is the fact that for the past year and a half -- take note of this, this is important -- I had been systematically excluded from all decision-making processes [by diGrazia]. And it really does take a while to read all these very complex programs and make meaningful decisions."