The 20-member Citizens Advisory Council charged with taking an in-depth look at the Howard County Police Department was selected to represent a broad spectrum of the community in an attempt to "get some real, real different perspectives," said Beverly Wilhide, aide to County Executive Charles I. Ecker.

"There was a concerted effort to get a broad-based community group together that would look at the whole scenario in slightly different ways," Wilhide said. "We didn't want to be seen as catering to a particular point of view."

The advisory council, which was named last week, includes five current or former members of the law enforcement community, three members of the clergy and two high school students, as well as a resident of each of the five County Council districts. About 40 residents applied, Wilhide said.

It will be led by William "Ned" Eakle, who was the county's administrator for 11 years before resigning in 1988. He has not said when the first meeting will be.

Members said it is not clear what kind of structure the advisory council will take. "I have no concept of what we're going to do," police Lt. Angus Park said.

Panelists said they were told to bring open minds to their work, which will culminate in a report assessing the department's strengths and weaknesses.

"I was told, 'Just be open and objective,' " Park said. "The message I got was that my responsibility is to give it {the department} a fair assessment."

Ecker decided to form the advisory council last month at the recommendation of his transition team's public safety task force. It will investigate a variety of areas within the department, including its policy on when to use force, its promotions and hiring system, and its use of technology.

Some police department officials expressed concern that the advisory council will be looking into areas already examined during the department's two-year assessment for national accreditation, which it was awarded last year.

The most vocal critic of the proposal was former police chief Frederick W. Chaney, who left office Friday after originally saying he would stay until March 1.

But Sherman Howell, a member of Ecker's public safety task force and an at-large member of the new panel, said that the advisory council's aims are different from those of the accreditation assessors.

"During the accreditation process, they looked at whether the department was following all the procedures," Howell said. "They did not take a look at the effectiveness of these policies.

"We won't be simply looking at the modernization of the department, but the professionalization, which are two different things . . . . People have to understand that we're no longer a Barney Fife operation."

Howell said he expects the advisory council to use a variety of methods to examine the department, from riding with police officers to holding public hearings.

He said students were named to the advisory council because during its initial examination of the department, the public safety task force found that "a lot of the friction in the community is between teenagers and police."

Some of this stemmed from the case of Jonathan Bowie, a 19-year-old Columbia resident who was found hanged from a baseball backstop last year a few months after accusing police officers of brutality. His death was ruled a suicide.

David Parrish, a friend of the Bowie family, was named to the advisory council. He said that he expects the panel to take "an honest look" at the department.

He added that "I'm not going in to retry the Bowie case. That's not the goal of the council."

"If we take an honest look," Parrish said, "it would not surprise me if we find that some people aren't doing what they should be doing. People have talked about procedures, but I think the department's procedures are firm and clear," he said. "What concerns me is what happens when things don't go right, who sticks their head in the sand, who avoids responsibility."