Quinn Names New Public Safety Officer

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Jan 6, 2010  |  Updated 6:15 PM CDT
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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn

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A police officer with nearly four decades of service was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn on Wednesday to oversee and evaluate the state's early-release and home-detention programs.

Quinn named Michael J. McCotter to the recently created position of Chief Public Safety Officer at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

"My mandate to the Illinois Department of Corrections is and always has been that the public’s safety comes first and that’s also Mike McCotter’s top priority," Quinn said in a statement.

McCotter's position was created last week after halting an early-release program that let inmates out of prison -- some of them violent offenders -- after as few as 11 days, and is an attempt to get a handle on considerable controversy that has arisen over the governor's handling and admitted knowledge of the program.

Quinn acknowledged last week that more than 1,700 inmates had benefited from the Corrections Department's decision to stop requiring all inmates to serve at least 61 days and to grant them time off for good behavior as soon as they enter the prison gates.

He called the program a "very big mistake" and publicly reprimanded Corrections Director Michael Randle over the program.

"It was a mistake.  We corrected it," Quinn said Wednesday.

One of Quinn's challengers in the upcoming Democratic primary, Comptroller Dan Hynes, has accused Quinn of mismanagement and endangering the public.

On Wednesday, Quinn didn't seem to indicate that the attacks are getting to him.

"He wants to be governor.  I am the governor," Quinn said.

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