David W. Purkey attended the Hamblen County School System including Morristown-Hamblen High School West where he graduated in 1977. Purkey was the salutatorian of his senior class, selected as a Who’s Who student, achieved First Honors and was elected Senior Class Treasurer. He was awarded the Dr. J.C. Freels and (perhaps as a foreboding to his government and political career) the Senator Estes Kefauver academic scholarships to the University of Tennessee.
As a college freshman on Christmas break, Purkey earned a personally signed recognition from President Jimmy Carter, the American Red Cross Award of Merit and the Lion’s Club Medal of Valor for saving the life of a young boy using CPR. He graduated from East Tennessee State University in 1981 with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health and interned with the State Division of Emergency Medical Services. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Health in 1987 from the University of Tennessee where he interned with the Tennessee Department of Safety. Purkey also trained as an Emergency Medical Technician, a certification he continues to hold some 37 years later.
His first government position was Judicial Assistant to his mentor, Judge James K. Miller. He also served as a 911 Dispatcher, Morristown-Hamblen County Emergency Management Director, Tennessee State Trooper assigned to the Nashville and Fall Branch Districts, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent assigned to the Chattanooga Region, and Police Accreditation Manager for the City of Morristown. Purkey served as an officer in the Tennessee Army National Guard and United State Army Reserves for eight years.
Purkey was appointed to the vacancy of Hamblen County Mayor in 1995 and went on to be elected four times before voluntarily retiring in 2010. He left the County with historically low property tax rates, the highest bond rating on record, and audit recognized record “rainy day” reserves while supporting the largest building program in history to address needs of the Hamblen County School System. Purkey had the unique experience of serving two terms with his brother, Otto, who was elected Sheriff during his tenure.
Purkey’s 30 year retirement was short lived. Governor-Elect Bill Haslam and Commissioner-Designee Bill Gibbons tapped him as the fourth Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor and Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security in 2011. He serves with some 1,800 employees statewide. The Governor-Elect commented at the time that “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.” The Governor further appointed him in a dual role as the Director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) for two years.
Purkey received the Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Service Award in 2012 and was inducted into his high school Hall of Fame in 2011.
Deputy Commissioner | Chief of Staff David McGriff
David McGriff was named Chief of Staff in January 2015. McGriff will act as top advisor to Commissioner David W. Purkey and will oversee the day-to-day operations in the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. He will work closely with the assistant commissioners of the Administrative Division, Driver Services Division and Office of Homeland Security, as well as the colonel of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Deputy Commissioner | General Counsel Roger Hutto
Roger Hutto has been a dedicated and loyal state employee for over forty years. He began his career in state government working for the Department of General Services (1976-1983) as a purchasing agent administering various statewide contracts while attending law school. He graduated from law school in 1980; was licensed in 1981, and then transferred to the Department of Safety in 1983 as a staff attorney.
Deputy Commissioner | Colonel Dereck Stewart
Colonel Dereck Stewart began his career with the Tennessee Highway Patrol in 1987 as a road Trooper in Montgomery County, where he spent seven and a half years before transferring to the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy to teach basic training to police and sheriff recruits.
Assistant Commissioner Lori Bullard
Lori Bullard was named Assistant Commissioner of Driver Services in August 2011. Assistant Commissioner Bullard oversees the daily operations of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s 50 driver service centers across Tennessee.
Assistant Commissioner Rick Shipkowski
Rick Shipkowski is the Assistant Commissioner for Homeland Security with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Prior to becoming Assistant Commissioner, he served as the State of Tennessee’s Homeland Security Director and Deputy Director.
Director Victor Donoho
Victor Donoho was named director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) in November 2016. Donoho serves the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) by overseeing the state’s highway safety program, which works to reduce statewide traffic crashes, injuries, and fatalities by promoting highway safety education and enforcement.