Prince George's County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan has decided to hire a civilian director of public safety to oversee all police and fire operations, according to his chief adminstrative officer.
Robert T. Ennis said yesterday that Hogan has decided that establishing a public safety office could help eliminate duplication in many areas and streamline both departments somewhat." and presented that concept to the County Council last week.
The council's reaction seemed quite favourable," Ennis said. "We really don't anticipate much opposition when we formally present it to them."
Council majority leader Gerard T. McDonough concurred. "I don't think we would have any trouble with the concept." he said. "At least I've heard none thus far. The only concern would be budget.
Larry would have to come up with a way to balance the costs of paying a majordomo's type of salary. I would imagine he'll come up with a plan before he submits the idea to us." McDonough added.
Behind the scenes, observers see the public safety concept as a compromise solution to a ticklish problem for Hogan: What to do with controversial Police Chief John W. Rhoads.
Rhoads was the subject of heavy criticism from rank and file officers last summer, most of it stemming from feelings that he failed to back them up during times of crisis, specifically during last summer's contract dispute and after the fatal shooting of two officers.
Rather than fire Rhoads-which would have drawn heavy criticism from police officers loyal to the chief and from many county officials-or leave the situation unchanged. Hogan appears to be compromising by establishing the public safety director's office, according to several county politicians, Rhoads has said he favors the idea.
Only one name has been mentioned as a candidate for the public safety job thus far, former D.C. police chief, Maurice Cullinane.