Two more police groups, the Police Association of Montgomery County and the county's Coalition of Black Police Officers, yesterday added their voices to the chorus of criticism of Chief Robert diGrazia.
In August the county chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police voted "no confidence" in diGrazia, citing "frustration and dissatisfaction" with his leadership.
DiGrazia characterized the latest criticism as more "normal police grumbling," asserting: "If there's a demand on people to do a job, the only one thing they'll do is to attempt to get the person who is forcing them to do the work."
Meanwhile, the county grand jury that was given a special extension of its six-month term to investigate allegations of mismanagement in the department scheduled its first official meeting next week.
The police association yesterday demanded that the chief be dismissed unless he apologizes publicly for a remark he made on an Oct. 3 television show or offers proof of his statement. About 70 members of the association, which represents about 300 county police officers, voted for the resolution Wednesday night, according to association president Cpl. Jerry Boone.
In the television interview, diGrazia had said that his administration is "showing the citizens of this county that this department was not operating the way it should, and that people involved in it were operating to a great degree, especially the ones in the higher ranks, for their own benefit and not the benefit of the community."
DiGrazia said he stuck by his statement, would be happy to meet privately with a delegation from the association, but would not apologize or publicly release his "proof" of the statement. "I think it would be embarrassing to them (the association)," diGrazia said.
In remarks prepared for a press conference today, the Coalition of Black Police Officers, which represents 24 of the department's 28 black officers denounced the chief for "incidents of overt discrimination" and for the presence of continuing racial problems in the 763-man department.
Coalition president Tony Fisher charged there had been discrimination or inconsistent treatment in the firing of two black officers and the transfer of a third from the Police Training Academy of a patrol assignment.
He also said that the county has failed to recruit and retain black officers, who he said make up only 4 percent of the department. He denounced diGrazia for failing to provide leadership to get County Executive James Gleason to sign a U.S. Department of Justice consent decree on affirmative action plans.
DiGrazia denied there had been discrimination in the firing or transfer of black officers, adding that one dismissal already had been upheld by a county Circuit Court judge.
DiGrazia pointed to a task force to develop new recruiting procedures, a special recruiting force, at least half of whose members would be black officers, to seek minority recruits and other new policies as evidence of his "commitment" to hire more minorities in the department.