Acting Prince George's County Police Chief Joseph D. Vasco said yesterday he resents County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan's behind-the-scenes threats to appoint him permanent chief if Hogan's first choice for the job failed to win appointment.
In a statement, Vasco referred to an article in The Washington Post that said Hogan had told some County Council members that if they rejected his police chief nominee, James R. Taylor, he might have no choice but to nominate Vasco.
The council rejected Taylor on Monday, and Hogan appointed his senior aide in charge of police relations, John McHale, to be the new acting chief when Vasco's term runs out on Dec. 28. Hogan is continuing his search for a permanent chief.
Hogan had eliminated Vasco from consideration for the permanent police chief's job because of his role in a controversial 1967 operation involving some police who came to be known as the "death squad" and because he wanted a chief who he felt would be acceptable to the black community.
Ill feeling between Hogan and Vasco has festered for several months, since Vasco gave a newspaper interview in which he charged that Hogan's lengthy search for a new chief had demoralized the police department.
Sources said Hogan also was angry that Vasco had apparently lobbied against Taylor's nomination by supplying several witnesses who testified at Taylor's hearing with information derogatory to Taylor. Hogan confronted Vasco on the telephone, according to the sources, and Vasco denied that he directly lobbied council members.
In his statement yesterday, Vasco said, "I have been made aware that I am now being used as a threat and a wedge in the appointment process . . . Despite the fact that many black leaders and other community members support me, I can't at this time, extinguish the fires that have been set."
Therefore, Vasco said, he had advised Hogan's office that he would not accept the police chief's job were it offered.
McHale, who will become acting chief for 60 days, has indicated he is interested in remaining in the position.
Some police officials have said that Hogan's appointment of McHale was a retaliatory action against the police and the County Council. McHale said yesterday that he would have no problems working with Vasco. In his statement, Vasco also said he will cooperate with McHale.