With Neuman out, Schuh will face Democrat
"Everybody expects, no matter who gets elected, they're going to bring in their own police chief," Atkison said.
"Does Chief Cox stay? Does Chief Cox go? The bottom line -- it's really the unknown," Whalen said.
Under Cox, the fire department has cut its 911 call processing time in half. Cox was also instrumental in placing more ambulances out in the field and reallocating staff to beef up personnel at some of the department's understaffed firehouses.
Johnson praised Davis and Cox -- but said that it would be inappropriate to comment on personnel decisions prior to the election.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning Schuh also commended Davis and Cox but said he had not made any staffing decisions.
"My approach is going to be able to try retain as much continuity as possible," Schuh said. "There's been too much disruption over the past few years."
Both police and fire unions will be interviewing the candidates and making endorsements in the weeks and months leading up to the general election.
Davis, in particular, has been as a calming force on his department, Atkinson said. The police force was embroiled in controversy during the administration of former County Executive
Leopold ultimately resigned after being convicted of misconduct in office. The convictions stemmed in part from his use of the police security detail.
"We've had so much turmoil and turnover in the police department over the last several years. It's been destructive to morale, it's hampered productivity," Atkinson said. "Most people will agree that we finally got on secure footing with the appointment of Chief Davis."
Under Davis, the department launched an initiative to combat heroin overdoses at the southern edge of the county. The department became one of the first in the region to equip officers with a drug to counteract the effects of heroin overdoses.
Atkinson noted that a new police chief would likely also mean a new assistant chief and chief of staff in the department, since the
"A substantial chunk of our command structure is going to be changed as a result" of the election, Atkinson said. "It's a little frightening."
In recent years, the
Such a move would require an amendment to the County Charter, Walker said.
There's little time to vote on such an amendment before November, said Councilman
"I don't think we can change the system based on the personalities of two people we like," Fink said. "Even if the charter amendment would pass, both chiefs would have to be given a contract by the next county executive."
Johnson said that he would be willing to entertain the notion, however said that the next county executive deserves to be able to form his own team.
Schuh flatly rejected the idea as "undemocratic."
"Those professional need to share the philosophy of the chief executive," Schuh said.
Reached by phone last week, Davis and Cox said they were not concerned about job security after November.
"Any chief realizes when you accept the position that you work at the pleasure of the county executive," Davis said. "I'd be doing the men and women of the agency a disservice if I became preoccupied."
"Elections occur on a normal schedule, departments deal with them all the time," Cox said. "We leave politics to politicians. It's my responsibility to lead no matter what's going on."
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