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Iowa public safety chief leaves after rocky tenure

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 11:05 a.m. CST

IOWA CITY (AP) — Iowa’s top public safety official has resigned, his top aide said Wednesday, after a rocky and widely criticized tenure that lasted less than a year.

Public Safety Commissioner K. Brian London submitted his resignation during a meeting Tuesday evening with Gov. Terry Branstad, aide Steve Ponsetto said. London spent 11 months as head of the department that investigates major crimes, patrols Iowa’s roadways and collects criminal intelligence.

London’s resignation is the culmination of months of negative publicity for the department. Current and former employees have blamed him for a drop in employee morale and missteps in a scandal involving the governor’s speeding vehicle, and he has been criticized for a remark that offended Filipinos.

London and two other department officials were sued last month for their roles in the firing of DCI special agent Larry Hedlund, who contends his superiors retaliated against him for filing a complaint in April about the governor’s speeding state vehicle. The speeding case has for weeks dogged Branstad, who is making plans to run for re-election next year.

London apologized last month for telling department employees that, in his experience, Filipinos were difficult to polygraph. London claimed through a spokesman that he was simply trying to make a point about cultural differences, but the remark was condemned by the Philippine ambassador to the U.S., who called London personally to demand an explanation.

Ponsetto said that he had spoken with London about his resignation, but that he could release no other details.

Branstad’s office confirmed the resignation Wednesday morning and announced the appointment of Larry Noble to lead the department, which includes the Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa State Patrol, the state Fire Marshal, the Division of Narcotics Enforcement and the state’s Fusion Center.

Noble served as commissioner in 2011 and 2012 before stepping down.

In all, the department has 615 sworn officers, roughly 300 civilian employees and 38 offices around the state.