Montgomery County has rejected federal demands that it set black hiring quotas for its police department and lower educational requirements for all police job applicants so that more black policemen can be hired.
County Executive James P. Gleason notified the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission of his decision in mailed yesterday. An EEOC spokesman said the commission will give the county 10 more days to reconsider after receiving the letter.
If the county fails to change its position, the spokesman siad, the EEOC will turn over its files to the Justice Department, which would decide whether to file suit against the county.
Gleason's decision comes after five months of meetings between the county and the commission that began after the EEOC found that the county descriminated against blacks in hiring and promoting of police officers.
The commission findings were based on its investigation of Mont-gomery County Police Department practices between 1975 and 1977 after the Coalition of Black Police Officers lodged a complaint against the department.
"There are many points of agreement (between the county and the EEOC) and a few points of disagreement," said William Hussmann, chief administrative officer for the county. A conciliation has not been reached because the county officials say they cannot accept all the commission's demands.
"We're standing on what we say and they're standing on what they say," said Hussmann.
Currently, about 4.5 percent of the county's 770-member police officer force is black, according to a county police official. About 7 percent of the county population is black, a 1974 census update showed.
According to Gleason's letter, the EEOC had insisted that at least 50 percent of all those hired as police officers over the next four hiring periods should be blacks. The EEOC also stipulated that an additional 25 percent should be women, according to Gleason, who termed the quota approach as "an unrealistic goal."
"We don't know if we will be in a position to hire that many blacks," said Hussman. "We did say we would commit ourselves to accepting a class that was 33 percent black and 33 percent women. They wanted us to say, 'We will,' and we said, 'We want to and will try.'"
The commission also wanted the county police department to drop its requirement that all job applicants have 60 college credit hours, the equivalent of two years of college. The existing requirement had the effect of excluding many otherwise qualified blacks, the EEOC maintained.
However, Gleson wrote that "the requirement has not been a deterrent in recruiting and hiring increasing numbers of blacks, other minorities and females."
"We won't drop our standards in terms of education," said Hussman. "Isn't it reasonable for an educated community to have educated, intelligent police? And the requirements for Montgomery County are nothing like the requirements for . . . federal enforcement agencies."
"We can set goals," said Phillip Marks, special assistant to Police Chief Robert diGrazia, "but to set quotas hasn't been effective anywhere and subjects you to reverse discrimination."
In the letter to the commission, Gleason noted the measures that the county has taken already to hire and promote more blacks. He said that the county is pushing its own affirmative action program by continuing to search for good prospective job applicants and is keeping in contact with "approximately 65 black organizations" to help in minority recruitment.
Gleason said that recruiting visits to 18 colleges and universities including contacts at black sororitles and fraternities had "resulted in the receipt of 849 qualified applications of which 138 or 16.3 percent are minority and 137 or 16.1 percent are female."
Tony Fisher, head of the Coalition of Black Police Officers, took issue yesterday with the county's insistence on maintaining the educational requirements. "There is no data available showing that officers with college education are more outstanding than those without. It's not job related," he said. The college requirement "would certainly knock out large amounts of black applicants," he maintained.
Fisher said the last county recruitment of effort for blacks "did not touch as many bases as we wanted." The police department should have had more data onwhere to search out good black applicants he said.