The public safety director is in charge of the 710 employees in the Cobb Police Department, the 683 employees in the Cobb Fire Department, the 125 employees in the county’s 911 unit and the 53 staff members in the animal control unit. He will receive a salary of between $101,587 and $165,651. The exact amount remains to be determined, county spokesman Robert Quigley said.
Lee spoke of Forsythe’s experience.
“I just think he has a wide breadth of experience over all areas of responsibility that he will manage from 911 to fire to police, and I think he brings a level of experience and expertise to that position that will be an asset to the department managers that will serve with him,” Lee said. “I think he’ll be a good team player for the district attorney and the folks in the courthouse as well, and I think he’ll work well with the sheriff’s office, so I think he’ll be a good team player all around.”
Forsythe, 59, and his wife of 34 years, Susan, have one son. Forsythe was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up there and in Prince George’s County, Md. He has worked as a self-employed public safety consultant since 2011. From 2003 to 2011, Forsythe worked for NASA, where he was the senior law enforcement official responsible for public safety functions at 14 self-contained city-structured sites across the country.
Before NASA, Forsythe worked for FEMA/Homeland Security, for the FCC, and as the executive commander of Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications.
“I’ve got 30-plus years of law enforcement public safety and public service,” he said.
He has a master’s degree in applied behavioral sciences from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in management sciences from the University of Maryland.
“Public safety is basically my passion,” he said. “I knew what I was going to do when I graduated high school, and when I got out, I sort of groomed myself — I watched what I did and tailored my activities to becoming a law enforcement officer. I think I have a multitude of experience, a multitude of success and with my winning management style, I think I can help enhance the public safety within Cobb County.”
Forsythe said Cobb is similar to Prince George’s County from a public safety perspective.
“Cobb County is one of the best managed counties I’ve seen in the whole country, and I’d like to be a part of that organization,” he said.
There were 206 applicants for the job, which was advertised in national trade magazines. Of those, 66 applicants were considered “eligible.” A committee appointed by County Manager David Hankerson that included former Cobb HR director Sheila Buckner, Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger, Smyrna Fire Chief Jason Lanyon, county HR director Tony Hagler, Cobb Schools Safety Director James Arrowood, Deputy Sheriff Lynda Coker, transportation director Faye DiMassimo and county lawyer Deborah Dance interviewed the applicants.
The position became vacant when Mickey Lloyd resigned in July 2010 amid claims he had embellished his military career. The county’s fire chief, Sam Heaton, stepped in to serve as the interim director. Heaton applied for the permanent job, as did one other county employee, 911 director Tony Wheeler, Hankerson said.
Forsythe said he looked forward to being confirmed.
“I’m really looking forward to getting in and moving forward,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of work to be done. I think Mr. Hankerson has done an excellent job. I think he’s sort of managing three other departments, including his current job of county manager, so hopefully we can get in and take a look at how we can increase the efficiency, maximize efforts and provide a service to the citizens even more so than what they’re use to. The No. 1 thing is we want to provide the best protection for the citizens, police and fire, and then we want to take a look at our efficiencies, what can we do to maximize our efficiencies within policies and procedures, and from there I think we’ll be able to move forward.”