Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose said yesterday that he is asking for money to hire 70 more officers and will restructure the department, raising the majors who run the department's three major divisions to the rank of assistant chief to make them more accountable to him.
The proposed changes in the 1,032-member force, which government sources said should win the approval of County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and the Montgomery County Council, also would raise to the rank of captain most lieutenants who now serve as department heads.
Moose alluded to his proposed changes during a radio interview yesterday on WTOP but declined to elaborate about his plans. The proposed changes are the latest by Moose, who took charge of the department Aug. 1.
A police source said yesterday that the proposal would, in effect, abolish the rank of deputy chief, a position that had long been held by Lt. Col. Thomas D. Evans, who served as acting chief after Carol A. Mehrling resigned and was in competition with Moose for the position of chief. Evans left the department last summer just as Moose arrived.
Currently, the department is divided into three divisions--training and staffing, investigations and general administration--and each is managed by one of the department's three majors.
Moose has proposed adding a planning unit, which would draft long-term growth and public safety plans for the department, a source said.
Duncan said yesterday that although he has not seen the final draft of Moose's proposal, he and the chief have been in talks about what Moose feels his department needs.
The county executive said that the proposal "accomplishes a lot and moves a lot of functions around in the department" and that he believes it "provides a better management for the force."
Moose's budget, submitted to the county's office of management and budget earlier this fall, is under review and will be formally sent to Duncan next month.
Yesterday, the county executive said he will meet with Moose to assess the request for additional officers before submitting a final budget to the council by March 15.
Officials said the process of restructuring the department would require an amendment to the county's code and, if approved, the assistant chiefs would be recommended by Moose, appointed by Duncan and confirmed by the County Council.
Many of the new officers would be assigned to county schools, while others would be placed throughout the understaffed department's existing five districts, officials said.
Last month, the County Council approved a $200,000 substation in the Gaithersburg-Montgomery Village section that will serve as the incubator for a new sixth district, scheduled to open in 2006.
But officials have yet to announce the exact number of officers needed to staff the new station, saying only that several officers from the Germantown District--in the northern part of the county--initially will staff the substation.
In October, Moose announced sweeping changes in the way the department handles complaints against officers, empowering the internal affairs unit with sole authority to determine whether complaints ought to be handled by district station officials.
New County Council President Michael L. Subin (D-At Large), a member of the council's public safety committee, said that Moose's proposal to raise the rank of majors will have little effect beyond the department and that he can't see the council disputing a request for additional officers.
"It's my belief that the council . . . is open to any request from the chief for additional personnel," Subin said.
"I don't think anybody here will be surprised when the chief asks for more officers. The council has been saying we shouldn't wait until there is a large need and bring on a huge number of recruits at one time."
CAPTION: Police Chief Charles A. Moose wants money to hire 70 additional officers. He also is restructuring the division administration to increase accountability.