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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. 

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