The Montgomery County police union, citing what it called "a long-brewing disenchantment" with Police Chief Donald E. Brooks, has scheduled a vote of no confidence this week by its 800 members.

Walter E. Bader, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 35, said momentum for Tuesday's special meeting has been building since September, when the union's board of directors voted to rebuke Brooks amid criticisms of his leadership and what it called a lack of sensitivity to officers on the street.

"The officers are very disenchanted," Bader said. "There is a lack of administrative support for them to go out and do their jobs." Bader said Tuesday's meeting is a "strong signal that the bottom is falling out of the system. We want the public to know the problems have reached crisis proportions."

Brooks, appointed chief in April 1988, said he has been working to address the officers' complaints about radio equipment failures, recruitment woes and a shortage of take-home cruisers.

"It's very unfortunate that this has come up," said Brooks, 63, a 40-year veteran who is the longest-serving police officer on the county force. "I'm not surprised however," he said. "This is an election year. This union moves in this fashion every election year."

Brooks contends that union leaders are trying to pressure County Executive Sidney Kramer, whom they opposed in 1986. The vote would be symbolic because Kramer has sole discretion on whether Brooks keeps his job. Former Alexandria police chief Gary J. Leonard resigned this year after a no-confidence vote by his unions, although he said that was not the reason for his departure.

The union's scheduled action is the latest wound for the beleaguered Brooks administration, which has been assailed for its recent failure to recruit more minorities. The problem was compounded by the revelation that the chief minority police recruiter had been the subject of a sexual harassment complaint and lawsuit by two female officers.

In addition, the union and individual officers have been complaining for several months about what they say are "life-threatening" breakdowns in the department's radio communications system. Some officers on the 850-member force also have been critical of the department's lack of competitiveness in overall recruitment efforts, contending that the county is falling behind police agencies in surrounding jurisdictions in offering benefit and incentive packages for new candidates.

Yesterday, Kramer, who selected Brooks upon the death of Chief Bernard D. Crooke, declined to comment on the union's planned vote of no confidence, saying it would be premature.

Kramer reiterated statements of support for Brooks. "I've never been disappointed with Donny Brooks," Kramer said. "He's done an excellent job under difficult conditions."

County Council member Michael L. Subin said he doubted the union's proposed vote of no confidence would have much impact on Kramer.

"This is a continuing, festering problem because of what happened with the recruiting issue in recent weeks," Subin said. "The union {members} probably think they smell blood."

The relationship between the union and Brooks "has gone from bad to worse," said council member Bruce T. Adams, chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee. Adams said "the level of mutual respect is not there between the chief and the union."

Bader said that before the vote the union leadership will give members a report on the chief's management of the department. The report cites 14 "points of concern," Bader said, including "archaic" labor relations, inadequate recruitment, insensitivity to disabled officers, dissatisfaction with promotions and lack of leadership.

The report chides Brooks for "unsophisticated and frustrating" labor relations, Bader said. "Brooks is dealing with us like it's the 1950s," he said.

Brooks said yesterday the union should be pointing its finger at elected county officials for inadequate funding for additional police cruisers, increased hiring incentives and repairs of the radio system. "That is totally out of my control," Brooks said. "I ask for them in the budget, but I don't get them. What am I to do?"

Council member Neal Potter, who is challenging Kramer in the September Democratic primary, agreed with Brooks. "It's not the chief's fault," Potter said. "He can scream louder, but the county executive and County Council have to appropriate the money."