August 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

Detroit's Homeland Security chief fired in reorganization

Detroit — The city’s director of Homeland Security has been fired as part of a reorganization that will move oversight of the agency from the police department to the Mayor's office.

Gerard Simon, a former Detroit Police executive who was brought out of retirement in October to head the Homeland Security Department, was fired Wednesday.

“It was part of the restructuring,” Detroit Police James Craig said. “Homeland Security will be moved over to the mayor’s office, as it should be.”

Craig said Monday’s flood, and the response to it, wasn’t the reason for the change. “This was being discussed for some time before that,” he said.

“It makes sense for the mayor’s office to have control over Homeland Security, since there’s more involved than just the police,” Craig said. “You have many different departments that would need to be deployed during emergencies, such as the Fire Department and the Water Department.”

John Roach, spokesman for Mayor Mike Duggan, declined to comment and referred questions to Craig.

Ricardo Moore, a former Detroit Police officer who sits on the Board of Police Commissioners, agreed it makes sense for the mayor’s office to control Homeland Security, but he said there needs to be a better response from the city during emergencies than what happened this week.

“There wasn’t much response after the flood,” he said. “We didn’t get much of anything from Detroit. Over in Warren, you saw Mayor (Jim) Fouts stepping forward and keeping people informed, but that was about it. (Gov. Rick Snyder) held one press conference. And we got nothing from Detroit.

“I didn’t see any leadership from the city of Detroit,” Moore said. “There should have been people out there educating the public, and letting them know what they can and can’t do, from the time it all started.”

Less than two weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, former President George W. Bush appointed Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge as the first director of the Office of Homeland Security, an office set up to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.

The passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security as a stand-alone department, which combined 22 different federal agencies. Local offices were established in most large cities.

Craig said Homeland Security operations in most large cities are handled by mayors’ offices, and was unsure why Detroit put the police department in charge of the office in the first place. He said the office was under police control when he assumed command in July, 2013.

GHunter@detroitnews.com
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