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FDLE director to pick state's first security chief

By the end of November Florida will have its first "domestic security chief," a position created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

For years, law enforcement officials in Florida and other states have talked about terrorism and what might happen in the wake of an attack, but few had experience dealing with terrorism. Now, officials say, the state needs a leader who can coordinate future responses.

James T. "Tim" Moore, director of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, will select the new security chief. Gov. Jeb Bush says he's leaving the selection up to Moore, who is "the go-to person on domestic security."

Moore envisions the new security chief as a person who possesses political skills, communicates well _ but is not necessarily a politician or lawman. The new chief will report directly to Moore and be an FDLE employee.

Members of a state task force appointed by the governor to examine the state's security problems agree the person selected needs to be "a unique person" who should have some law enforcement skills.

"We've been talking about terrorism for years," said Manatee Sheriff Charlie Wells, who is a member of the task force. "But no one has any real experience outside of textbook situations."

Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, another member of the task force, said Monday that the person should have extensive knowledge and background in terrorism as well as some political and business acumen and law enforcement experience. It should also be someone who has experience dealing with the public, she added.

Six men have applied for the job and Moore expects to make his selection from the six, possibly as early as next week.

The six applicants are:

George Stephen Lauer, 49, a Tallahassee resident who is director of port security for FDLE. He previously served as chief of staff at the Department of Elder Affairs and as deputy director of the governor's drug policy office. He is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel.

Richard E. Lober, 49, a Tallahassee resident who is a supervising agent in FDLE's public corruption division. He also has a law degree.

Walter H. Ricks, 46, an Orlando resident who is in charge of emergency management for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Wayne E. Bennett, 55, an Albany, N.Y., resident who is deputy superintendent of the New York State Police.

J. Thomas Bendekovic, 53, a Fort Lauderdale resident who handles regional security for Motorola and formerly worked as a captain at the Plantation Police Department.

Carl Fischer, 47, a Cape Canaveral resident who is engineering director for Pro Tech Professional Services.

Moore said he wants the person selected to be a good communicator, analytical and well-organized. The domestic security chief will have to talk to local, state and federal officials. He'll be reporting directly to Moore and working with state and regional task forces appointed to oversee security issues.

"He needs political skills, but being a politician is not a requirement," Moore said.

The job could pay between $65,000 and $95,000 a year, depending on background and qualifications, but Moore predicted the final salary will be about $75,000.