Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons has repeatedly had Tennessee state troopers drive him halfway to his Memphis home at least 31 times in the last two and a half years, reports News Channel 5's Phil Williams.
The trips include a trooper driving his vehicle with a second driver tailing them until they reach Exit 108 on I-40, at which point Gibbons drives himself the rest of the way home and the troopers turn back. According to the report, Gibbons has used the troopers as chauffeurs at least 31 times. That averages to about once a month, although officials say it may have been more.
Commissioner Bill Gibbons called driver's license station waits at most centers that average about 45 minutes "unacceptable." Gibbons acknowledged the cuts would probably mean reduction in coverage by troopers and an increased wait time at driver's license centers. "For a lot of people, standing in that line is where they meet state government," Gibbons said.
Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam and Tennessee Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner-designee Bill Gibbons named former Hamblen County Mayor David Purkey as Assistant Commissioner for Homeland Security. The Office of Homeland Security (OHS) was transferred from the Governor’s Office to the Tennessee Department of Safety in 2008, and OHS’s primary responsibility is directing statewide activities for the prevention of and protection from terrorist-related events. The office also serves as a liaison between federal, state and local agencies and the private sector on security matters. “David Purkey is a man who has helped make Tennesseans safer throughout his life, and I’m grateful that he’ll be a part of our team,” Gov.-elect Haslam said. “David brings to the table an in-depth background in emergency planning and preparedness,” Gibbons said. “As a former county mayor, he understands the importance of forging close working relationships with local communities in our efforts to keep our state safe. He's just the right choice for this assignment.” Gibbons also announced David McGriff, who currently serves as director of the West Tennessee Drug Task Force, as interim Deputy Commissioner. McGriff has 41 years of law enforcement experience, and he will assist on an interim basis in setting priorities for the office, as well as identifying both challenges and opportunities. Prior to this position, Purkey was Hamblen County Mayor from 1995-2010. Before becoming mayor his career included stints as a state trooper, TBI special agent and Hamblen County Director of Emergency Management, and he served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Tennessee Army National Guard. “Protecting our citizens and critical resources is the highest priority of government, and having served in government safety roles previously, I am truly honored to return to my public safety profession,” Purkey said. “I appreciate Gov.-elect Haslam and Commissioner-designee Gibbons for giving me this opportunity to work with our local, state, and federal partners, and I promise to work with the State Homeland Security staff and the State Homeland Security Council to build upon the very positive relationships already established between our emergency services providers.” Purkey, 51, is married to Pamela, and they’re members of First United Methodist Church of Morristown.
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