Montgomery County Police Chief Bernard D. Crooke has recommended that 22 county police officers be demoted or fined between $300 and $500 for having sexuald relations with women while on duty.
The sexual liaisons took place mostly in police cruisers at parking lots or "behind schools" and involved officers ranging in rank from patrolman to sergeant, Crooke said at a news conference yesterday. The officers were stationed at the Silver Spring, Wheaton and Rockville district stations.
Appearing strained, Crooke said "I don't condone such behavior on the part of any police officer . . . However," he said, "the vast majority of the members of this department" have earned the trust and confidence of the public with "their exceptional performance of duty and public service."
Two of the incidents of sexual misconduct involved a Michigan woman, a former county resident, who said she used a citizen's band radio in her home and in her car to contact officers.
The 20 other incidents involved a 26-year-old county nurse who originally told police she had engaged in sexual acts with about 50 officers.
A total of 50 to 60 officers were investigated for sexual misconduct, according to sources, but Crooke said the department would not levy any penalties for off-duty activities.
Crooke said two officers - in addition to the 22 accused of having sexual relations while on duty - have been cited for misconduct in connection with the cases.
One had permitted an unauthorized passenger in his police vehicle, and the other had left the confines of his patrol beat, Crooke said.
The penalties for the latter offenses were a letter of displeasure from the chief and a find of $100, Crooke said.
Three of the 22 officers refused to accept the chief's recommended punishments and plan to seek exoneration before a police hearing board. One of the officers accused of the two lesser offenses has also requested a hearing.
One of the officers involved in the sexual misconduct was an investigator from the internal affairs office who has since been transferred to another division at police headquarters, Crooke said.
Reading from a press release at the news conference, Crooke said, "I can say without hestitation that I do not condone such behavior on the part of any police officer. The public safety could have been jeopardized."
The sex investigation has been a delicate issue for Crooke since he inherited it from outside police Chief Robert J. diGrazia. Crooke was reportedly privately outraged by the sex scandal. But he has also tried, since becoming chief last April, to promote an aura of high morale, confidence and stability within the department.
Thus, his criticisms of the violations yesterday were tempered with praise for the department in general. "This is still a good department," he said.
He noted that the officers have all served an average of nine years with the department. Except for this incident, they have served well and have received (a total of) 285 citizen's commendations, 81 departments commendations, and five citizens' awards, compared to five previous disciplinary actions.
Only one officer faces both a demotion and a fine, a police source said. Crooke recommended a $500 fine for one officer, $400 fines for four officers and $300 fines for 17 officers. In all cases the fines represent less than a week's salary.
Crooke said the amount of the fines had nothing to do with rank. Police sources said the fines were levied according to the number of times a police officer had engaged in sexual activity on duty.
Crooke said a special supervisory team of two captains and a lieutenant now monitors the officers for misconduct, particularly during the night shifts. Crooke said he has asked ranking officers at the district stations to provide greater field supervision of the patrol officers, as well.
The chief said he does not plan to ban CB radios from police cars as a result of the sex incidents. But he said he is reviewing the police ride-along program since apparently at least one of the women involved had participated in the program - which permits citizens to spend a few hours with a police officer on the beat.
The recognized leaders of the police rank and file refused to commenton the investigation's findings or on the penalties. CAPTION: Picture, POLICE CHIEF BERNARD D. CROOKF . . . recommends demotions and fines