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Hicks Pushes for Public Safety Director

In other words, take the politics out of police headquarters.

"We need an individual who is above the level of chief of police and below that of mayor to implement the strategies to have effective crime reduction for the city," Hicks says. "Clearly, we have to look at our structure. You have to have an individual who can direct the crime fight on many different levels."

Hicks says he might be interested in such a role and has had several conversations with Mayor L. Douglas Wilder about how to restructure the city's police hierarchy. But no decisions have been made, he says.

"At this point in time," Hicks says, "we have had no detailed conversation as to what if any role he would like me to play in his administration."

Wilder didn't return a phone call seeking comment last week. Through a spokeswoman, interim police chief Lt. Col. Teresa Gooch declined to comment.

The idea of hiring a public safety director is nothing new. Two years ago, former City Council members Sa'ad El-Amin and Reva Trammell led a push to create a new public safety director but were rebuffed by former City Manager Calvin Jamison and then-Police Chief André Parker.

City Council briefly supported the plan, concerned that the police department wasn't manning the streets properly and upset over the fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect May 17, 2002. But ultimately council rescinded the support. Some council members complained the public safety director would only add an unnecessary and expensive layer of bureaucracy. Richmond had a public safety director until 1992, but the position was eliminated because it was deemed unnecessary

In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in October 1992, Parker vowed to quit if City Council hired a public safety director. — Scott Bass

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