Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, under pressure to name a new police chief from within the force, has added a county police official to the list of candidates for the job.
The name of Rice Turner, an acting Prince George's police lieutenant colonel, has been added to five others, according to informed sources. The list includes Deputy D.C. Police Chief Robert W. Klotz and Wesley A. Pomeroy, special assistant to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and three others from outside the Prince George's department.
The sources said that if the County Council rejects Hogan's choices from outside the department, Turner would still be "acceptable" to the executive.
Hogan is expected to submit a name to the council by the end of September, the sources said.
Both County Council members and the influential local chapter of the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), have been calling for promotion of an insider to replace Chief John Rhoads, who retired June 30 on a disability pension.
Turner, a 41-year-old Bowie resident, was one of the two county police officials Rhoads recommended as his successor, according to informed sources. But Turner, known as a strict disciplinarian, is unpopular among some Prince George's police officers.
Laney Hester, head of the FOP, said Turner would be unacceptable as chief, and declared: "Hogan's strategy is becoming more and more apparent. If he has to pick an insider, he will pick the worst possible insider to enhance his 'outside' choices."
The other county police official recommended by Rhoads was Joseph D. Vasco, now acting chief, according to the sources. Hogan has told Vasco he has been dropped from consideration because of public suspicion that he participated in a police "death squad" 12 years ago. Vasco has denied the allegations that he helped arrange convenience store holdups in which two suspects were shot to death by police. Police have said an internal investigation cleared him in the matter. A state police investigation is continuing.
Vasco had been considered the front-runner for the chief's job because he has the strong support of a majority of the County Council and the FOP.
Turner joined the police force in 1961, spent five years as a uniformed officer and later, as a sergeant, was appointed head of the department's internal affairs unit, which investigates complaints against police officers. After six years in that job, in which he is known to have taken a strong line against police brutality, Turner was assigned to command the Hyattsville police substation.
Turner will be interviewed for the chief's job soon, according to sources.
Deputy D.C. Chief Klotz was interviewed for the job yesterday by John E. McHale Jr., a senior assistant to Hogan. Klotz was given no indication whether he is Hogan's choice for the job, according to sources. Neither Klotz nor McHale would comment on the meeting.
Klotz, 45, is deputy chief of special operations on the D.C. force. He directs police handling of most major demonstrations and has the reputation of being fair and even-handed in dealings with demonstrators. It was his idea last February to surround protesting farmers' tractors on the Mall with Metrobuses.
Klotz's candidacy for Prince George's chief has run into opposition from the County Council because he is an outsider, and from county police officers because Klotz is unpopular with some D.C. officers for the hardline stance he took several years ago in police contract negotiations.
Council member Sue V. Mills plans to introduce a bill before the council on Tuesday that would require Hogan to select a new police chief from within the county department.
"We have a police department that is a good police department," Mills said yesterday, "and it's a real slap in the face to say there is no one who is good enough in the department."