Governor Brad Henry shuns quick decision on Bob Ricks' replacement

Monday, October 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry appears to be in no hurry to appoint a new public safety commissioner.

Kym Koch Thompson, Henry's press secretary, said Monday the governor is weighing a number of options and ``is more interested in making the right decision, rather than a quick decision.''

For Henry, finding a replacement for Bob Ricks involves more than appointing someone to head the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

He is deciding whether to make one person the chief of the DPS and also his secretary of safety and security and possibly director of homeland security for the state.

Ricks, who already has begun his new job as police chief in Edmond, held all three jobs in the administration of Republican Gov. Frank Keating. He came to state government after an extensive FBI career.

Henry, a Democrat, kept Ricks in two of the state jobs for almost a year after his inauguration, much to the chagrin of some Democratic legislators.

At a recent news conference, Henry said he was leaning toward making the new public safety commissioner a member of his cabinet.

``It makes more sense to have someone in a dual role,'' Thompson said. ``There also are budget concerns'' about having one person as public safety commissioner and another as cabinet secretary overseeing law enforcement agencies, she said.

Last month, Henry said Kerry Pettingill, deputy director of homeland security, is ``doing a great job'' in an interim role and there is a possibility he could be elevated to head that agency.

Officials say the public safety commissioner's post has drawn scores of applicants, including Deputy Commissioner Kevin Ward, who has the backing of the Oklahoma Troopers Association.