A Metro section caption in some editions yesterday incorrectly identified Montgomery County Police Chief Donald E. Brooks as Lt. Clifford Melton. (Published 6/17/90)
The Montgomery County police lieutenant appointed this week to bolster the department's minority-recruitment efforts said yesterday he has submitted his resignation in the face of "unfair" criticism stemming from past sexual harassment charges and other disciplinary problems.
Lt. Clifford Melton said he wrote a one-page letter yesterday to Chief Donald E. Brooks asking to be relieved of his new assignment and transferred back to the Silver Spring police station.
"My effectiveness has been shot, ruined by the allegations," said Melton, who was appointed by Brooks to the new, high-profile post. "I'm willing to take the heat," Melton said, "but I'm tired of my family being hurt. I don't want to be political baggage for anyone."
Brooks, who late yesterday called Melton a "good choice for a difficult job," said he will decide soon whether to accept the resignation and reassignment request.
Melton's appointment as chief minority recruiter came after the county NAACP accused the police department of having a "dismal record" in recruiting blacks. NAACP officials are especially upset that only one of 100 black applicants became a member of a recent recruit class.
After a meeting Monday with County Executive Sidney Kramer, Brooks selected Melton, who is black, to oversee the department's minority-recruiting program. The police force is 11.2 percent black. The county is about 10 percent black.
Melton's selection became embroiled in controversy this week after disclosure that he had been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint and civil suit by two female officers. According to the suit, filed in 1983, Melton, then a sergeant, urinated in front of a female officer, forced the only female member of a squad to watch an X-rated film with a room full of male officers and made sexual advances toward the two female officers.
NAACP President Roscoe Nix yesterday said the selection of Melton showed a lack of sensitivity to women and "bad judgment" by county officials. Nadine Mildice, president of the county chapter of the National Organization for Women, said the appointment sent "a clear signal that sexual harassment is okay."
However, Kramer, who said he was unaware of Melton's past problems, defended Melton as "well-qualified" for the post. On Thursday, Brooks praised Melton as a "success story" that "will show to all that an officer can overcome adversity and still succeed."
Yesterday, Melton, a 19-year veteran of the force, lashed out at his critics. "Am I to suffer for the rest of my life for allegations that happened back in 1983?" he asked. "I denied them vehemently back then, and I do the same now."
In a 1985 settlement, the county paid a total of $10,000 to the two female officers for attorneys' fees and court costs. Melton was found not guilty of sexual harassment by a police trial board, which nevertheless found his conduct "inappropriate for his rank."