The Prince George's County Council appears ready to defeat a bill, bitterly opposed by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, that would require the executive to choose a new police chief from the ranks of the county police department.
Hogan's aides described the bill's prospective defeat today as a response to Hogan's recent public apology to the council after months of feuding and his accompanying pleas that he be allowed to appoint a chief from outside Prince George's.
But council leaders would not concede that Hogan had won them over. "Hogan should not read anything into our defeat of this bill," said Council Chairman William B. Amonett. "It does not mean that the council will accept a chief who is not from Prince George's."
Council member Sue V. Mills, the bill's sponsor, predicted, however, that its defeat would prompt Hogan to abandon efforts to find a candidate for chief from within the department.
Hogan has been attempting to find a replacement for Chief John W. Rhoads, who retired in June. Hogan has said he believes there are few, if any, acceptable candidates in the department.
A majority of council members have opposed accepting a chief from outside the county.
Hogan sent a two-page letter to the council yesterday calling Mills' bill, which would make selection of a police chief from within the county a requirement of law, a "disservice to the people...."
A solid majority of the 11-member council appeared to agree with Hogan. Three -- Frank Casula, Sarah Ada Koonce and Ann Lombardi -- voted against the bill in committee; four others said they oppose the legislation.
Most said they would vote against the bill because it would take away part of Hogan's legitimate authority as county executive. Some added that the long delay in selecting a chief, increasing morale problems in the police department, and Hogan's clear preference for an outsider, also were factors.