New Cobb police chief chosen
by Katy Ruth Camp
August 10, 2010 12:00 AM | 4092 views | 5 5 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
COBB COUNTY — County Manager David Hankerson has chosen Deputy Chief John Houser to lead Cobb’s Police Department.

The Board of Commissioners is expected to approve Hankerson’s recommendation this morning.

Houser has been with Cobb Police since 1981, making his way up the ranks from officer to deputy chief in March 2008. As deputy chief, he manages the department’s uniform division. Houser earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in public administration from Columbus State University, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.

“During the time he has served as deputy chief, Mr. Houser has distinguished himself with his leadership and management skills. I have had numerous positive comments regarding his service to the County during his 29 years with Cobb County,” Hankerson wrote in a letter addressed to Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee. “There were two internal candidates interviewed by a panel of assessors … Mr. Houser distinguished himself in this review to be recommended as the top candidate for the position. I also conducted interviews with the two candidates. After completing my interviews with the candidates, I concur with the recommendation of the committee.”

Hankerson announced Houser and fellow Deputy Chief of Police Ron Storey as the top two candidates for the position in April after former Police Chief George Hatfield retired on April 30. Storey manages the county’s detective operations, and both deputy chiefs have been the day-to-day leaders of the department since Hatfield retired.

Former Director of Public Safety Mickey Lloyd served as interim police chief until he resigned July 30 amid allegations he lied about his service in the Navy during the Vietnam War. Cobb Fire Chief Sam Heaton was appointed acting public safety director on Aug. 5, sharing those duties with Hankerson while still leading the county’s Fire Department. Quigley said Heaton would remain acting public safety director once the new chief of police is appointed, and no timeline has been set on when or if the county will decide to permanently fill the position.

Houser was earning $98,192.07 as deputy chief, Quigley said, and his salary as police chief had not yet been determined as of Monday night.

“I think the county had two fine people to choose between for the position,” said Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenburger, who served on the recommendation panel. “This was a win-win situation for everyone, as they’re both great, intelligent, respected individuals. I see a lot of passion in Deputy Chief Houser and a lot of vision for the police department and where he wants to take it. I’ve seen that over the years as well, not just now. I’m certainly looking forward to working with him more. He’s very well-respected among his peers.”
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August 10, 2010
Hopefully, he will have the courage to make the changes needed. It's a shame that outside candidates were not sought so that the culture could be addressed. Underneath the shiny badges and new cars is a culture of "circle the wagons" rather than doing the right thing. The community's support of law enforcement is noble; however, that unwavering support has the unintended result of carte blanche for many of the officers. Procedures are not followed, reports not filed or are falsified, and no one checks these folks.
August 10, 2010
David Hankerson made another excellent decision in choosing the new Chief. Of course, it would have been hard to screw up; he had two outstanding finalists.

Samuel Adams
August 10, 2010
I agree, excellent choice. John Houser has earned this honor through his hard work. Congrats are in order to everyone involved in this decision. For those of us who know Houser, it renews our confidence in the county that was so unnecessarily damaged by the actions of the former head.
police supporter
August 10, 2010
Chief Houser will be a great leader and communication between the public safety departments will be improved!
August 10, 2010
Excellent choice!
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