There is no conclusion yet on who President Obama will nominate to take over at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) when Janet Napolitano leaves next month. There are a few recurring names, although as I wrote previously, despite the hype around NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, odds are he will not be chosen as the next DHS Secretary.
Yet, while Kelly may not get the nomination, his credentials are certainly attractive for one of the hardest jobs in Washington. While Tom Ridge and Napolitano (both former governors) and Michael Chertoff (a Federal judge) did an admirable job leading the Department, perhaps the next Secretary should bring a stronger law enforcement background. A top cop – like a police chief or commissioner – could be just what the Department needs. Here is a piece I wrote for Defense Media Network exploring why a top cop would be a good choice for the new Secretary of Homeland Security.
The New DHS Secretary: Time to Pick a Top Cop for a Tough Job
With President Barack Obama returning to the White House from his annual summer vacation, with any luck over the next couple of days we will have the name of a nominee to be the next DHS Secretary. Even if that person were named first thing on Monday morning, with Congress on its summer recess and the whole nomination process still to painfully unfold, the fact is we will have an Acting, Acting Secretary for Homeland Secretary come September. With current Secretary Janet Napolitano due to depart DHS to begin her new role as president of the University of California system in early September and the deputy secretary position being filled by Rand Beers on an acting basis until Alejandro Mayorkas is officially confirmed by the U.S. Senate, we will have an unprecedented “Acting Acting” position serving as the leader of one of the country’s most sensitive posts.
As tenuous as that might be, finding the right person for the toughest job is not easy, and needless to say the White House Personnel Office has its hands full in trying to fill more than a dozen highly sensitive and important leadership positions at DHS. We all know the various notable names that have been batted around for the S1 job – Thad Allen, Ray Kelly, and so forth. Former USCG Commandant Thad Allen is without a doubt at the top of everyone’s short list, but if he isn’t tapped (or does not want the position), what other options do the president and his team have to fill one of the toughest jobs in the country? Here’s one I’d like him to consider – a top cop.