Lee chooses public safety chief finalist
by Jon Gillooly
December 28, 2012 12:35 AM | 6535 views | 27 27 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Pending a positive background check, Cobb County chairman Tim Lee said he plans to ask the Board of Commissioners to approve Jack L. Forsythe of Currituck, N.C., as the county’s next director of public safety at the board’s Jan. 8 meeting.

The public safety director is in charge of the 710 employees in the Cobb Police Department, the 683 employees in the Cobb Fire Department, the 125 employees in the county’s 911 unit and the 53 staff members in the animal control unit. He will receive a salary of between $101,587 and $165,651. The exact amount remains to be determined, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.

Lee spoke of Forsythe’s experience.

“I just think he has a wide breadth of experience over all areas of responsibility that he will manage from 911 to fire to police, and I think he brings a level of experience and expertise to that position that will be an asset to the department managers that will serve with him,” Lee said. “I think he’ll be a good team player for the district attorney and the folks in the courthouse as well, and I think he’ll work well with the sheriff’s office, so I think he’ll be a good team player all around.”

Forsythe, 59, and his wife of 34 years, Susan, have one son. Forsythe was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up there and in Prince George’s County, Md. He has worked as a self-employed public safety consultant since 2011. From 2003 to 2011, Forsythe worked for NASA, where he was the senior law enforcement official responsible for public safety functions at 14 self-contained city-structured sites across the country.

Before NASA, Forsythe worked for FEMA/Homeland Security, for the FCC, and as the executive commander of Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications.

“I’ve got 30-plus years of law enforcement public safety and public service,” he said.

He has a master’s degree in applied behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in management sciences from the University of Maryland.

“Public safety is basically my passion,” he said. “I knew what I was going to do when I graduated high school, and when I got out, I sort of groomed myself — I watched what I did and tailored my activities to becoming a law enforcement officer. I think I have a multitude of experience, a multitude of success and with my winning management style, I think I can help enhance the public safety within Cobb County.”

Forsythe said Cobb is similar to Prince George’s County from a public safety perspective.

“Cobb County is one of the best managed counties I’ve seen in the whole country, and I’d like to be a part of that organization,” he said.

There were 206 applicants for the job, which was advertised in national trade magazines. Of those, 66 applicants were considered “eligible.” A committee appointed by County Manager David Hankerson that included former Cobb HR director Sheila Buckner, Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger, Smyrna Fire Chief Jason Lanyon, county HR director Tony Hagler, Cobb Schools Safety Director James Arrowood, Deputy Sheriff Lynda Coker, transportation director Faye DiMassimo and county lawyer Deborah Dance interviewed the applicants.

The position became vacant when Mickey Lloyd resigned in July 2010 amid claims he had embellished his military career. The county’s fire chief, Sam Heaton, stepped in to serve as the interim director. Heaton applied for the permanent job, as did one other county employee, 911 director Tony Wheeler, Hankerson said.

Forsythe said he looked forward to being confirmed.

“I’m really looking forward to getting in and moving forward,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done. I think Mr. Hankerson has done an excellent job. I think he’s sort of managing three other departments, including his current job of county manager, so hopefully we can get in and take a look at how we can increase the efficiency, maximize efforts and provide a service to the citizens even more so than what they’re use to. The No. 1 thing is we want to provide the best protection for the citizens, police and fire, and then we want to take a look at our efficiencies, what can we do to maximize our efficiencies within policies and procedures, and from there I think we’ll be able to move forward.”
Comments
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Just a guy
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January 04, 2013
I've known and served with Jack Forsythe for a number of years. For those who are concerned that he is just a bureaucrat, you would be wrong. Jack was a line police officer for many years in one of Maryland's toughest counties. He has great police instincts but more than that he is a solid leader and a man of exceptional character. The suggestions in these comments otherwise are from those who do not know him or possibly others not selected for this position. Its easy to denigrate someone who has no way to defend themselves from these biased attacks.
W B Waits
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January 03, 2013
I agree with Mr. Denison. Check with those that know him and have worked with him. I know Mr. Forsythe very well and worked with him for several years. Others should get their "facts" straight before they make comments. Not all you read on the Internet is true and many time posted by those who only have an ax to grind and can do it anonymously. I know for a FACT that he was not removed from his position at NASA and that he has extensive Law Enforcement experience from the bottom up. He is a outstanding leader and and offers a outstanding balance between supporting those who work for him and those that he works for. He will be a valuable asset for any organization that is lucky enough to have him.

R K Denison
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January 03, 2013
If you want real and truthful information about Jack Forsythe ask any or all of the NASA Chiefs of Protective Services who oversee Security, Police and Fire Services for the 10 NASA Centers and Facilities across the US. They all have worked for Jack for several years. They all have extensive public safety and government experience. At NASA Jack was a dynamic leader who got things done, he listened and valued the opinion of others. Jack's background, experience and education will provide a solid foundation for success in this new position. He will be a significant asset to the organization in Cobb County and I believe he was undoubtably selected because he was the right person for the job.
Outsider not bad
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January 01, 2013
Although I agree that Sam Heaton did a good job while he was holding this position, I think lack of any law enforcement background hurts him. The problem I see with the new director is that he doesn't really have any experience with police or fire. NASA is not the hot bed of law enforcement experience. I would have thought that they could find someone with more real life experience in local law enforcement from a solid background and good education to fill the job. God knows that "Mickey" wasn't qualified, so I hope this guy is. Of course I'm sure he won't have much latitude to do his job anyway, because we all know that the commissioners and coundy mangager will still tell him what to do....
T R Evans
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January 02, 2013
Fact:

Prior to Federal Service Mr. Forsythe was a Police Officer in Prince Georges County Maryland.an Agency with over 1400 Officers. He worked his way up from street cop, special operations, dignitary protection and retired as a member of the Command Staff of the PD>

He made numerous arrests in his career and continued to carry a firearm as the AA at NASA where he was required to qualify twice a year with his issued handgun and also shoulder weapons.

I served with Jack and can attest to his ability with weapons.

I also can attest to his integrity, He has conducted himself in an exemplary manner in all positions and will be a tremendous asset to the Public Safety efforts in Cobb County.
Watcher...
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January 01, 2013
There are many, many questions about Forsythe, too many to ask in this forum.

I would like to know how he scores on a weapons range (both rifle and pistol,) and has he ever personally, actually "arrested" a perpetrator.

I also want to know about the NASA allegations.

Forsythe appears to be a Bureaucrat that may not have adequate field experience to manage this department.

What are u watching
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January 01, 2013
So you want to know, how he scores on a weapons range (both rifle and pistol,) and has he ever personally, actually "arrested" a perpetrator.

Wasn’t the interim public safety director the fire chief? I never heard these same concerns about the interim director. It is a good bet the fire chief has never personally, actually arrested a perpetrator. Or the fire chief never qualified on the weapons range (both rifle and pistol).

The real reason people don’t like this candidate is because he isn’t a Cobb insider.

concernedaboutthis
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December 31, 2012
someone really needs to investigate why the man was removed from his position at NASA... Haven't we been down this road before with someone that was not trustworthy???
casual observer
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December 30, 2012
The NASA allegations are troubling. Why would you name someone as a finalist BEFORE a background check?
Just Assuming
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December 31, 2012
Aren’t you assuming the county hasn’t performed a detailed background check? Perhaps those “allegations” were groundless. Oh, I forgot everything on the internet is true. Are you suggesting none of the other candidates ever had any allegations made against them?
Bo Duke
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December 30, 2012
Maybe Hank and Jack can get some work done around the garden on county time!!! Come on Tim bring him in!!!
anonymous
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December 29, 2012
Maybe he can find out why the Police Chief's unqualified best friend got promoted to deputy chief
more investigation
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December 28, 2012
Maybe somebody needs to check to see why he was " Removed" from NASA amid allegations of corruption and infidelity. Does cobb really need to go through this junk again.

barney fife
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December 31, 2012
Oh my heavens, why wasn't this candidate vetted BEFORE he was presented to the Board? Ask anyone in Cobb County how Chief Heaton did as interim and they will tell you hands down, he was great. So this candidate has a masters degree over Heaton's bachelors degree? You go to the outside to lend an "air of legitamacy to the process" and this is the best you can do? And what message does that send to county employees regarding career development? You went to the outside with the last public safety director; that was a political appointment and we all know it. And you see how that one turned out. Somebody PLEASE dig on this one!
barney fife
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December 31, 2012
Amen to the comment by "more investigation". There is so much more to this story.
Nomore internet info
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January 01, 2013
What we need is facts not internet investiations. Do you know for a fact that he was “removed” from his NASA position amid allegations? No you don’t. All you did was a web search and found some information on a blog. This blog is written by someone fired from NASA and has a history of constant tirade against the organization and its management. The blog offers not evidence only rumor and allegations. But for some people rumors on the internet are facts.
Get a education
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January 01, 2013
I would assume he was vetted by the internal affaairs department. Don’t they vet all new public safety employees? According to other people in this forum a person is not qualified to be public safety director unless they are a police officer.

I can tell you the message it sends county employees regarding career development; positions will be awarded based on education and qualifications NOT tenure. In your own words it is career development and NOT just hang around long enough and we will promote you. Most count employees will not like this appointment because they don’t have the education and qualifications to compete on the open market.

Get real all positions voted on by the BCO are political appointments.

He was removed
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January 02, 2013
On the NASA website and multiple NASA newsletters there is a formal notification that Forsythe was removed from office. There is also notice that others that he appointed to office were removed. The only reason Forsythe is being hired is so Tim Lee will have someone that he can control fully just like the DOT director and new Purchasing director. By hiring from outside there is more opportunity to put pressure on a candidate to "play ball" and kiss the backside of the chairman. Hankerson's days are numbered and Lee wants directors to do what he wants and give him total control. Cobb is going down the wrong road and this time hopefully it will take Lee and his minions over the cliff to their employment demise.
Show the proof
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January 02, 2013
Can you provide us the links to the official NASA website where he was removed or copies of the NASA newsletters. I have searched the NASA website and cannot locate it. It is highly unusually for any federal agency to openly discuss personnel issues. If I had to guess you got this information from the NASA Watch website which has no affiliation to NASA. It is written by someone that enjoys trashing people with unproven allegations over the internet. But at least he does it openly.

Also, shouldn’t the person in charge of the county, Chairman Lee, have the right to pick employees that will “play ball”? Or should they employees control their bosses? That the main problem in this county the employees want to run the show. Run for office if you want to be in charge.

Old timer
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December 28, 2012
With professional leaders in each department, why do we need to spend so much on this position. And then he must have staff......seems to me this is one department we could cut out. Many towns...cities do not even have this postion.
Come to the new age
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December 29, 2012
Your handle says it all "Old timer". Well it is a new age and the old boy’s status quo must go. Perhaps you don’t like the position because it forces the police and fire chiefs to answer to someone for their actions.

You said, "With professional leaders in each department". Then the question is why didn’t any of them get this position? Especially the person who held the position for two years. It could be because they lack the necessary management experience. Many in this county’s leadership positions lack the professional credentials and education to hold comparable positions outside this county. They have come up the good old boy’s ranks and only know the Cobb way. They understand all they need to do to get these high ranking management position is develop the “right” relationships and stay on the job long enough. Once is a leadership they disparage employees with better credentials and educations. They are unable or unwilling to make any significant changes to make their department more efficient. Most are only a year or two away from retirement and do not want to create waves. In this county the upper level public safety positions are too often selected based personal relationships and not qualifications. This practice has degraded these departments and the service they provide. These are the reasons for having a Public Safety Director.

The Public Safety Director’s staff sworn personnel who work for the police department. There are no great savings be eliminating this position. But you are correct the “good old days” was the best and there are no reasons for improving and advancing the county’s services. No one outside this county has any good ideas.

Just Wait
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December 28, 2012
Maybe bringing in someone with no connections to Cobb/Atlanta will help correct some of the management and moral problems in Public Safety. Let's just hope he doesn't immediately hook up with the old cronies still there.
mk-protect animals
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December 28, 2012
Great, sounds like a good selection!

Cobb County Animal Control NEEDS more money & employees!!!!!

Case in point-

Smyrna , we have a rental house where folks moved in 2 years ago w/ 2 large dogs, a mastiff & german shepard. The house has no fenced in yard.

The people have been given warnings, and quite a few tickets, for tethering the dogs outside. Apparently, the $100 fine doesn't deter them from continuing to tie these dogs outside.

Yesterday, I phoned Animal Control at 4 p.m. to inform the dogs were both tied up, no-one home. I noticed at 9 p.m., the dogs were still tied up & barking, the outside temperature was 34 degrees.

Animal Control cannot be reached after 6 p.m. I was referred to online complaint form or 911. I called Smyrna 911 and they stated they could not come out, it had to be handled by Cobb County.

This needs to be changed!!!

It is time to raise fines for abuse of animals. Many states fines for tethering are $1,000 up to a felony in certain cases.

These dogs remaind outside in the freezing weather until the owner came home around 11 p.m.

My heart was so sad for these poor dogs. They rely on us to protect them.

3 things need to be looked at-

1)-raise fines

-fine the pet owner

-any infraction, send warning to landlord/investor

-3rd offense, fine landlord, too

2)-REQUIRE rental properties that choose to rent to animal owners to be fenced in, if LARGE dogs are on rental property(investors don't live in our neighborhoods & don't seem to care)

3) -Cobb's cities need at least ONE animal control officer each & van w/ capability to pick up animals after County hours & take them to shelter.

Tim Lee,...haven't you said we have a SURPLUS?????????? Let's use it wisely.
anonymous
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December 28, 2012
Someone should steal those animals and find them a good home.

It would serve the owners right.

I'm not one for solving all problems with government intervention, but in cases of animal cruelty like this, the county should step in.
I16
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December 28, 2012
Maybe MR. Jack L. Forsythe of Currituck, N.C., will be able to give David Hankerson some relief.

(David has so much to do) Hah Hah.



Real Experience?
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December 29, 2012
From the article, it looks as if he has only been an administrator and a bureaucrat. Has he ever actually been a police officer or firefighter on the street? I'd rather have someone who has really done the job of the 1600 cops and firefighters that he's going to supervise. Was there not a career police officer or firefighter among the 66 qualified applicants who had worked his/her way up the ranks? And, this will be his first job running a suburban department. Didn't any experienced chiefs from other large departments apply>
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