A half dozen black community leaders in Prince George's County, including several loyal to County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, yesterday endorsed Hogan's nominee for police chief.
But the head of Prince George's NAACP and other key black leaders in the county remained uncommitted on the nomination of Petersburg, Va., Police Chief James R. Taylor to take over the county force.
The support of the NAACP may be crucil if Taylor's nomination is to be approved by the County Council.
At a press conference at the Glenarden Town Hall yesterday, two of the many black leaders who were invited to interview Taylor in Hogan's office last week announced they favored Hogan's choice. A third said later he also would support Taylor.
The leaders of the country's growing black community are considered particularly important now because Hogan has made a point of commending Taylor's record on race relations and has emphasized the importance of improving police relations with the black community.
Taylor's record on community relations in the largely black cities of Petersburg and Newburgh, NY., where Taylor served as police chief and city manager, has been clouded by unfavorable reports from some black leaders there and by discrimination complaints filed against Taylor in the past.
The leaders endorsing Taylor yesterday included Cora Rice, president of the Black Women's assembly, and Ernest Gary, president of the Palmer Park Citizens' Association and a Hogan appointee to the county Human Relations' Commission.
A third black activist Sylvester Vaughns, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for County Council last year on the ticket with Hogan, has also announced his endorsement.
Also present at yesterday's press conference were Glenarden Mayor Rubin Reid and several heads of neighborhood organizations and fraternities.
They said in a joint statement Taylor "has demonstrated a sensitivity to minorities" and could function well as chief of police based on his record.
"He is a strong leader," said Gary, who organized the group endorsement. "When he makes a decision, you have to convince him he's wrong before he will listen to you. But we need someone with backbone who can stand up, especially stand up to the police union we have."
Gary said that he and the other leaders made "a number of calls" to check up on Taylor before making their endorsement.The group was criticized, however, by NAACP leader Josie Bass, who said they "did not do an adequate background investigation."
Rice, who represents about 175 women in the Black Women's Assembly, acknowledged that she was still waiting for the NAACP's investigative report on Taylor, but declared, "We have the information we need. We have made our decision."
Bass said yesterday that the NAACP could announce its position soon. The council's vote on Taylor could come as early as Dec. 3.
The group that endorsed Taylor, Bass said, is "not representative of a large segment of the black community. The largest organization historically in the county on these kinds of issues has been the NAACP."