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East Tennessee to Host State Commissioner for Department of Safety and Homeland Security

East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health will host Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner David Purkey, who will provide a free lecture on Tuesday, Jan. 31, at the Millennium Centre.

Purkey’s talk, titled “Behind the Scenes with the Governor: The 2015 Chattanooga Terrorist Attack,” will focus on the July 16, 2015, incidents in which Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire at a military recruiting center and then a U.S. Navy Reserve center in Chattanooga. Five military individuals were killed in the incidents and another two individuals were wounded.

Purkey graduated from Morristown-Hamblen High School West prior to receiving his bachelor’s degree in public health from East Tennessee State University in 1981. 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.

His first government position was Judicial Assistant to Judge James K. Miller. He also served as a 9-1-1 dispatcher, Morristown-Hamblen County Emergency Management director, a Tennessee state trooper assigned to the Nashville and Fall Branch Districts, a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and police accreditation manager for the city of Morristown.

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. That retirement, however, was short-lived.

In 2011, he was tapped to be the Governor’s Homeland Security advisor and assistant commissioner for the Department of Homeland Security. He was further appointed in a dual role as director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency for two years and was appointed the commissioner of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security in September 2016.

Purkey’s lecture is part of the College of Public Health’s Leading Voices in Public Health Lecture Series. It will take place at 6 p.m. on January 31 in the 2nd floor ballroom of the Millennium Centre, 2001 Millennium Place. It is free and open to the public. It will also be available via livestream at http://www.etsu.edu/cph/livestream.php. Prior to the lecture, a meet-and-greet reception with Purkey will run from 5:15-5:45 p.m.

For more information, call 423-439-4243. For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.