COLUMBUS – Two of Ohio’s top law enforcement officials have stepped down with the suggestion that both needed to go to improve relations within the Department of Public Safety.
Gov. Ted Strickland said Friday that he accepted the resignations of Public Safety Director Henry Guzman and the Ohio State Highway Patrol superintendent, Col. Richard Collins.
Guzman told Strickland on Thursday that he wanted to work in another part of Strickland’s administration.
Later Thursday, Collins agreed to step down, “so that new leadership at the State Highway Patrol could join in the effort to have the Department and the Patrol move forward collaboratively,” Strickland’s office said.
Strickland said in an interview that the strained relationship likely led to Guzman’s request to resign.
“The fact that there had been difficult communications between the two of them probably led to Director Guzman’s decision that he would like to step down and perhaps do something else,” Strickland told The Associated Press on Friday.
Strickland said he was concerned about morale at the agencies but said it wasn’t unusual for officials in large departments to not always see eye-to-eye.
“I don’t think that should diminish from the service that either of them have provided to our state,” the governor said.
The two men did not get along and their relationship hurt decision-making at the patrol, said Larry Phillips, president of the union representing troopers.
“I’ve heard it referred to as an oil-and-water type situation,” Phillips, president of the Ohio State Troopers Association, said Friday.
“They didn’t agree on a lot of issues, and as time went by each side became more entrenched and there was a lack of trust with each other,” Phillips said.
The disagreements between Guzman and Collins made recent contract negotiations difficult, he said.
Collins, 50, who earned $123,000, joined the patrol in 1978 and was named superintendent in April 2007.
Guzman, 62, who earned $129,000, is a former public safety director in Cleveland and public service director in Columbus who was appointed in February 2007.
Public Safety oversees agencies involved in state safety and security, including the patrol, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the Emergency Management Agency and the state Department of Homeland Security.