Haslam Names new Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security

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David Purkey

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam announced the appointment of David Purkey as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security beginning September 1.

Purkey, 57, has served as the department's assistant commissioner and homeland security advisor since 2011. Under his leadership, the Office of Homeland Security has transformed into a proactive agency, overseeing school security plans, training citizens and law enforcement agencies in active shooter response, and leading the state's efforts to combat cybercrime.

From 2014-2016 Purkey served in a dual role as director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).


"David has more than 35 years of experience in state and local government and emergency management and has been the state's primary homeland security advisor for the past five years. As TEMA director, he guided the state's response to devastating storms and their lasting effects as well as our collaborative effort with local and federal law enforcement in the wake of the Chattanooga attack last July," Haslam said. "He is well-qualified to lead this department, and he is passionate about serving our state and its citizens."

"As a former state trooper, I'm humbled by Governor Haslam's confidence in me to lead the Department of Safety and Homeland Security," Purkey said. "Commissioner Gibbons has set a strong course for our four divisions, and I will keep that momentum going as we continue our work to make Tennessee safer."


Purkey is a native of Hamblen County with more than 35 years of experience in state and local government and emergency management, including service as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, emergency management director in Morristown, state trooper in the Nashville and Fall Branch districts, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) special agent in Chattanooga, and mayor of Hamblen County for four terms. He served in the Tennessee Army National Guard and United States Army Reserves for eight years, and he has been a licensed emergency medical technician for the past 35 years.

Purkey earned his bachelor's degree in public health from East Tennessee State University and master's degree in public health from the University of Tennessee.

He and his wife, Pam, an employee of the Tennessee Department of Health, have been married for 20 years. They live in Morristown.

Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons announced in May he will leave the administration August 31 to serve as president of the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission and director of the new Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis.

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