Governor Bill Haslam named Knoxville’s police chief to be the next director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after another finalist was accused of misusing state resources to conduct an extramarital affair.
Haslam’s office announced that David Rausch, an Army veteran who has led the Knoxville Police Department since 2011, will become the TBI’s ninth director. He succeeds Mark Gwyn, who stepped down earlier this year after 14 years in the job amid
criticism that he’d overused an agency airplane.
The governor finalized Rausch’s appointment at roughly the same time his office confirmed to reporters from WTVF and The Tennessean that it had received emails on Friday accusing the TBI’s interim director, Jason Locke, of wrongdoing. Locke had been one of three finalists for the position.
In the emails, which Haslam’s office released late Monday, a person who identifies herself as Locke’s wife says Locke had an affair last year with a former deputy commissioner at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and that both he and the woman used state vehicles to meet up. They allegedly also stayed in hotel rooms paid for by the state.
Jeff Cherry, a Lebanon attorney representing Locke, did not have an immediate response to the claims.
In naming Rausch, Haslam made no mention of the other candidates. Instead, he praised Rausch’s quarter century of experience with the Knoxville Police Department.
“David brings a wealth of experience to the TBI and the proven leadership to continue the great progress the agency has made in making Tennessee safer,” Haslam said in a prepared statement.
But Rausch’s nomination hasn’t been without controversy. He’s been criticized for his department’s close relationship with the University of Tennessee — particularly his practice of calling UT coaches when players were arrested.
Still, he’s been called on frequently to represent police chiefs on matters before the state legislature. And the governor’s office praised his knowledge of both urban and rural public safety challenges, as well as his experience working with state and federal law enforcement agencies.