Iowa public safety commissioner orders leadership shake-up

Changes will return three directors to 900-employee agency

Erin Jordan
Published: January 6 2014 | 12:36 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:42 am in

Leadership changes at the Iowa Department of Public Safety take the agency back to the way it was before the 11-month tenure of a controversial commissioner, fired in September.

Commissioner Larry Noble has shifted back to a structure with three directors leading the agency of 900 employees.

“The changes are designed to streamline operations,” said Sgt. Scott Bright, public safety spokesman.

Chari Paulson, who was director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigations under former Commissioner Brian London, will now lead Administrative Support and Technical Services, Bright said.

Jim Saunders, who had been director of Intelligence, will take over all investigations, which includes the DCI, Narcotics Enforcement, State Fire Marshal, and Intelligence. Col. David Garrison will remain director of the Iowa State Patrol.

Noble will not replace Ray Reynolds, who resigned as the director of the Fire Marshal's Office in September to lead the state’s building code and inspection unit.

Noble demoted Steve DeJoode from director of Narcotics Enforcement back to a special agent in charge and moved Kyle Gorsch from his position leading internal affairs back to the Fire Marshal’s Office. Sean McCullough will take over internal affairs, Bright said.

Paulson is among defendants named in a wrongful termination lawsuit by an agent fired in July. Veteran investigator Larry Hedlund claims he was fired, in part, for complaining that the State Patrol did not stop a trooper who was speeding with Gov. Branstad aboard in April.

Bright said Paulson's removal from the DCI post had nothing to do with the Hedlund case.

Turmoil following the speeding incident led Branstad to fire London in September. London, who was a private security consultant in Florida before coming to Iowa in October 2012, made numerous changes at DPS, including reorganizing leadership, creating a new financial investigations team and reducing the number of unmarked patrol cars.

London told the Gazette in September that he was hired with a mandate to shake up the department, but was undermined by an old-boy's club in the agency.

Branstad tapped Noble, a 30-year law enforcement officer, to replace London. Noble led DPS for about 18 months before London was hired.

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