Cobb Public Safety Director Resigns

Jack Forsythe, who has been on the job only a year, cited a lack of funding and resources for police, fire and 911 services.

Jack Forsythe, the director of the Cobb Department of Public Safety, abruptly resigned after only a year on the job on Monday, citing a lack of sufficient funding and resources to "properly sustain" police, fire and 911 services in the county. 

Cobb Fire Chief Sam Heaton, who served as the interim public safety director from September 2010 to January of last year, has once again been appointed to serve in an acting role, effective immediately, according to a statement issued by Cobb County Government Monday night. 

Forsythe is officially on leave until Jan. 21, when his resignation formally takes effect.

In a heated letter dated Monday and sent to Cobb County Manager David Hankerson, Forsythe said that after conducting an extensive review of the department's many operations, he concluded that "there is an immediate need for a major infusion of resources to enhance the public safety resources in Cobb County." 

Forsythe told Hankerson in the letter that "this critical need has now been exacerbated" with the arrival of the Atlanta Braves to Cobb County for the 2017 baseball season.

Forsythe said that Cobb DPS "will be able to provide the safest stadium complex in the country" for the Braves if his recommendations are followed. 

But later in the letter, which was initially posted by The Marietta Daily Journal, Forsythe referred to what appears to be plenty of acrimony between him and Hankerson over those recommendations. 

Forsythe said in particular that there is a "crisis" within the Cobb Police Department over officer retention and recruiting new personnel. But he asserted that the county hasn't moved forward with a management study because Hankerson has said that the county "cannot afford the number of officers the report will say we need."

Forsythe also said Hankerson threatened to fire him in August and was told by the county manager that he doesn't "do things the Cobb Way. It appears 'the Cobb Way' is not to disagree or buck the current procedures . . . "

Forsythe was a former law enforcement executive with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Association/Homeland Security when he was hired last year. He had been living in North Carolina before his move to Cobb. 

Forsythe concluded his letter by saying that Heaton, Cobb Police Chief John Houser and Cobb 911 Director Ann Flynn "are truly some of the greatest public safety officials I have ever had an opportunity to work with."

The Cobb government statement indicated that Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee would ask the Cobb Board of Commissioners to make Heaton the permanent public safety director. 

“Cobb has a long standing tradition of providing excellent public safety services and I thank Mr. Forsythe for his efforts,” Lee said in the statement. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors and we are glad to have an experienced leader like Chief Heaton who can immediately take charge of the agency.”

Patch will have more reaction to this story on Tuesday. 
Lisa Bensenhaver Kennedy January 06, 2014 at 11:08 PM
Looks like the "good ol' boy network" in Cobb County strikes again.
Michelle Sollicito January 07, 2014 at 08:21 AM
People need to realize that paying LESS taxes has consequences - it means our safety and health is at risk because there are insufficient funds to provide an adequate Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Services. Similarly it means that our Education suffers like we are currently seeing with our Cobb County School District being "broke". Wake up people! We need to pay more taxes! Good for Forsythe for his self-sacrifice in order to make the public aware of the depth of the problem. Shame Hankerson did not listen - maybe he will now?
Chris P. January 07, 2014 at 01:46 PM
@Michelle, I think that the situation is more complicated than just saying we need to pay more in taxes. That's the easy way out and frankly without an outside audit of the finances of Cobb performed by a truly independent agency, I would not support raising taxes at this time for this specific purpose. I would first look at getting the funds for public safety from the general fund. Somehow there is always money for pet projects that benefit third party engineering and construction firms. For example, $3 million was spent on an environmental study for a bus rapid transit (BRT) system down the middle of Cobb Parkway that may never even get built. Deliberately under-funding schools and/or public safety is a typical tactic used by politicians to get the public to accept higher taxes. It's kind of similar to keeping your house in a state of disrepair in order to keep the tax collector from raising your assessment, all the while you have two brand new Mercedes hidden in the garage. In this case I do not know for sure that is what is going on, but it is a little suspicious that the county is constantly having funding problems for core services like public safety and education, yet somehow the contractors and consultants make a killing.
Lisa Bensenhaver Kennedy January 08, 2014 at 12:11 AM
I'm still curious where the extra police force necessary for Braves game traffic is going to come from. Apparently, there has been no money allocated for that nor money to hire more police officers. Nothing like thinking ahead, Cobb County!
Dana Frawley Godfrey January 29, 2014 at 01:00 PM
Or perhaps someone will listen NOW, now that people are stranded all over Cobb County (indeed all of North GA) as a result of poor decisions and poor planning. Do each of us, as citizens have some responsibility? Absolutely! But the bad calls made in regards to pre-treating roads, sending home school children, providing for support and back up for emergency workers... this was a total CF.
Michelle Sollicito March 08, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Chris P, I cannot really comment on the Public Safety budget as I have not looked at it in depth but I can comment on the Education budget as I have looked at that in great depth see http://eastcobb.patch.com/groups/schools/p/how-bloated-is-the-cobb-county-school-district I do agree though that the Cobb Commissioners all seem to have companies who they prefer to give handouts to rather than paying for things like Public Safety. The Braves Stadium is one example, but there are so many others - the tax deal for John Williams was another see http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/24174719/article-Commissioners-mum-on-tax-deal-for-%24103M-project


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