Montgomery County NAACP officials charged yesterday that county Police Chief Donald E. Brooks has a "dismal record" in recruiting blacks and criticized the department for accepting only one of 100 black applicants in the upcoming officer candidate class.
In a strongly worded letter to County Executive Sidney Kramer, Roscoe R. Nix, president of the county NAACP, called for a special review of police recruiting efforts and said that Brooks should be removed from office unless more blacks are recruited by the department.
Nix said he is upset that only one black is in the upcoming police officer candidate class. One hundred blacks had applied for the class of 50 recruits; eight made the final cut and one was chosen. The class includes 46 whites, two Asians and one Indian, according to a police statistical profile.
Brooks could not be reached for comment.
"We are not happy with the low numbers at all," said Patricia Proctor, equal employment opportunity officer for the county, stressing that Kramer is committed to affirmative action and is concerned about the low number of blacks accepted.
Proctor said the county has spent both time and money in trying to recruit minorities but faces stiff competition from other jurisdictions.
She said the county has not had the opportunity to do a thorough analysis of the latest recruiting efforts but that the low numbers of blacks in the program may be an "anomaly."
County records show the number of blacks in the department has increased over the last five years. There were 59 blacks among the 739 officers in 1985, or 7.9 percent, compared to 93 of 830 in 1989, or 11.2 percent.
Nix said NAACP officials are upset not only by the low numbers but also by the explanations they were offered by top police officials.
Nix said in his letter to Kramer that when the NAACP met with Brooks and his top staff on May 22, they were told that some black applicants were "irresponsible," "lackadaisical," as well as "young" and "immature." Nix said he took notes but could not recall whether it was Brooks or his top lieutenants who used those exact words.
Other factors cited by police officials, Nix said, were that jurisdictions such as Prince George's County offer a better recruitment package and that the FBI actively recruits the top minority candidates.
Nix said the NAACP became involved because it had received reports that the recruiting of black police officers was not a high priority with Brooks.
"The chief's record on the recruitment of African-Americans places Montgomery County back in the pre-1968 days, when the department refused to recruit any blacks," Nix wrote to Kramer, "We must not have a return to the status quo . . . ."
A spokeswoman for Kramer said he wanted to speak with Brooks before commenting.