Is Cobb County dangerous? After all the billions of taxpayer dollars appropriated for decades for police, fire and emergency medical responders, are we unsafe? Should we be afraid to live, work and play in Cobb?
Departing Cobb Public Safety Director Jack L. Forsythe seems to think so. He bluntly states in his Jan. 6 letter of resignation to county manager David Hankerson: “It is very evident from the results of my investigations and analysis, that Public Safety in Cobb County has suffered from a lack of sufficient funding and resources to properly sustain the appropriate level of personnel, facilities, and equipment to provide an adequate level of protection for the citizens.”
If that’s not clear enough, Forsythe makes it clearer: “These decisions negatively impact every citizen, community, business, and visitor of Cobb and continue to be safety issues for public safety personnel every day.”
The most serious allegation, the big scandal, the real bombshell in his letter is that Chairman Lee and county manager Hankerson have been aware of the “crisis” in Cobb and allowed it to fester: “For over one year now, you and the Chairman have been notified of the crisis that has been developing within the police department as a result of the number of officers leaving the department and the County’s inability to attract and retain new recruits and the need and justification for an increase in authorized officer strength.”
Because of his unrelenting whistle blowing, Forsythe claims that on Aug. 13, Hankerson “went as far as to threaten me and stated in anger that you and I are not going to make it, that one of us will be departing soon.”
Well, that’s quite a letter. Forsythe’s 4-page wallop contains plenty of angry accusations. We have the right and need to know if those accusations are true. Millions of people are daily affected by the performance of departments directly under his control.
The 2013 Adopted Budget for the Department of Public Safety was almost $144 million, about 20 percent of the county budget. However, there are additional monies. There is $15 million from the Grant Budget. There may even be additional funds I am unaware of. Is the Department of Public Safety, as Forsythe alleges, underfunded and unable to protect us?
Because of the critical importance of these departments, we have not only the right but the need to know if the charges made in Forsythe’s letter are true. Is Forsythe another patriotic Paul Revere bravely sounding the alarm and alerting us to danger, or is he just another comical Deputy Barney Fife of Mayberry carrying a whistle and flashlight, beguiled by the power of an office he has never had before?
Forsythe, while still in office, has made his accusations known worldwide. The District Attorney should take immediate action to find the truth.