Vola T. Lawson, the Alexandria housing official who will become acting city manager on Feb. 27, said yesterday she may ask the City Council to fund an administrative review of the Public Safety Department.
Such a review has been discussed recently by Mayor Charles E. Beatley, and Lawson said yesterday that neither she nor outgoing City Manager Douglas Harman objects to an outside study.
Lawson was selected Saturday to serve temporarily as the city's top administrator. She will replace Harman next week when he leaves to become the city manager of Fort Worth.
For four weeks a special grand jury has been investigating allegations that Director of Public Safety Charles T. Strobel mishandled a 1984 police drug investigation.
Strobel, who testified before the special grand jury yesterday, declined to comment on a possible review of his department, which includes the police, fire and sheriff's divisions.
The council will decide the scope of the independent review by how much funding, if any, it allocates for the study, City Attorney Des Calley said.
"We need a top-to-bottom review. It may take two to three months," said council member Donald C. Casey. "It won't be cheap, but the present administrative set-up is not working right . . . . The morale is lousy."
The special grand jury will turn over any findings of a criminal nature to a regularly scheduled grand jury, which has the power to indict. Commonwealth's Attorney John Kloch said the jury's mandate does not necessarily include investigating administrative conduct.
Lawson said she will wait until the grand jury disbands before deciding to seek council approval for the review.
A close look at the public safety department is a "top priority" now, she said, but depending on what the jury makes public, the extent of the review might need to be altered.