Indiana getting new Homeland Security executive director

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Joel Thacker

Indiana Department of Homeland Security Executive Director Stephen Cox is retiring from his public service role, the state announced Monday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has named Joel Thacker, who currently serves as the Indiana State Fire Marshal, as the new executive director.

Cox was appointed executive director in 2020, after serving as the state fire marshal. He previously worked for the South Bend Fire Department for 26 years and served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic.

“I am forever grateful to Director Cox’s leadership of IDHS, especially during the pandemic,” Holcomb said. “His leadership was calm, thoughtful and deliberate, and the agency has distributed an unprecedented amount of protective equipment and supported emergency management services like never before while continuing important initiatives around public safety training and preparedness.”

During his time with the department, Cox helped organize the state response during the COVID-19 pandemic, including operating the State Emergency Operations Center. Cox also worked on improvements to the state’s cybersecurity readiness and resiliency, and brought Indiana into the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Agreement state program.

Thacker has been state fire marshal and director of the Fire and Building Safety Division since 2020. He previously served as a firefighter for 30 years, most recently as fire chief with the Plainfield Fire Territory.

“Joel Thacker brings incredible experience from local and state government service to the Department of Homeland Security,” said Holcomb. “His help in leading the department in recent years will result in a smooth transition and continued service for Hoosiers.”

Thacker will officially begin his new role June 27.

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