Posted: March 18, 2004

Secretary of Safety and Homeland Security James L. Ford Jr. will retire effective May 1, Governor Ruth Ann Minner said Thursday.

“I have dedicated more than 50 years of public service to the citizens of Delaware, primarily in the criminal justice arena, and I am very pleased to have culminated this service under Gov. Minner’s administration,” said Ford, who is 72. “We have made many significant accomplishments not only in public safety, but also homeland security, particularly, since September 11, 2001. Additional plans need to be finalized and I leave a very competent staff to fulfill those goals and objectives.”

“This is entirely a personal decision so I can look forward to enjoying retirement and spending quality time with my family,” Ford said.

Gov. Minner lauded Ford for his work as secretary.

“I am so proud to have had Jim Ford serve in my cabinet, especially at such a critical time for public safety in Delaware. Jim’s integrity and honesty have earned him respect across the state and the country and it has all been well-deserved,” Gov. Minner said. “Jim’s decision was unexpected, but I understand his desire to spend more time with his family now that his wife is retiring. I certainly wish him well.”

As secretary, Ford coordinated Delaware’s reaction to the September 11th attack on America and oversaw his agency’s transition from the Department of Public Safety to the new, more security-focused Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

At Ford’s urging, the Governor created the Delaware Homeland Security Council to coordinate security efforts among all levels of government and in the public and private sectors, naming Ford as the first chair. Ford also led the effort to rewrite the state’s Emergency Operations Plan, which was originally written to address natural disasters and accidents and was overhauled to include response scenarios for potential terrorist attacks.

Ford opened a new facility for Delaware State Police Troop 2 in the Bear/Glasgow area and has planned a replacement for Troop 5 in Bridgeville. He supervised efforts to increase fairness in promotions and discipline in the Delaware State Police and created the Delaware State Police Citizens Advisory Committee to incorporate public input into police operations.

Ford’s department is in the final stages of implementing a reverse 911 on a statewide basis in the event notifications or protective actions need to be made to the general public.

Ford served as superintendent of the Delaware State Police from 1973 to 1976, having worked his way up the ranks from the position of trooper. Before becoming secretary, he served as chairman of the Council on Police Training under three governors, as a member of the Sentencing Accountability Commission, as an instructor at the University of Delaware and Wilmington College, as chair of the criminal justice department of Delaware Technical and Community College - Terry Campus, and as assistant to the president for college relations at Del Tech. Ford, who lives in Dover, is married to Elaine Ford. He has two grown sons, James L. Ford III and John W. Ford.

Gov. Minner said Thursday she does yet not have a timetable for nominating a replacement for Ford. Her nominee will have to be confirmed by the Delaware State Senate.