State DHS Executive Director to Retire from Public Service
Stephen Cox has notified Gov. Eric J. Holcomb that he is retiring from public service as the executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS). Gov. Holcomb yesterday named Joel Thacker, the state fire marshal, as the new executive director, effective June 27.
“I am forever grateful to Director Cox’s leadership of IDHS, especially during the pandemic,” Gov. 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.”
Cox was appointed executive director in 2020, after serving as the Indiana State Fire Marshal. Prior to his state service, he worked for the South Bend Fire Department for 26 years, including eight years as chief. He also served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic.
Under his leadership, IDHS has:
- Helped organize the state response during the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, including operating the State Emergency Operations Center, which distributed more than 1 million pieces of personal protective equipment, commodities, and other resources to support local, state, and federal partners
- Improved cybersecurity readiness and resiliency at the state and local levels in partnership with other state agencies
- Brought Indiana into the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Agreement state program, updated state firefighting training rules and implemented EMS provider changes to result in better EMS service for Hoosiers through changes approved by the Indiana General Assembly.
“It has been an honor to serve the state of Indiana during what has been a critical time,” Cox said. “The team at the Department of Homeland Security is committed, and under Gov. Holcomb and Director Thacker’s leadership, will continue to protect the people and property of the state, and help communities and residents stay safe.”
Cox’s last day as executive director is June 24.
Thacker has been state fire marshal and director of the Fire and Building Safety Division since 2020. He has been responsible for the Indiana Fire and Public Safety Academy, code enforcement inspections, emergency medical services, fire investigations and hazardous materials training.
“Joel Thacker brings incredible experience from local and state government service to the Department of Homeland Security,” Gov. Holcomb said. “His help in leading the department in recent years will result in a smooth transition and continued service for Hoosiers.”
Thacker previously served as a firefighter for 30 years, most recently as Fire Chief with the Plainfield Fire Territory.
“I’m humbled to be chosen by Gov. Holcomb for this important role,” Thacker said. “Preparedness is crucial for the success of Hoosier families, communities and the state, and the team will continue to focus on training and supporting all partners.”
Thacker earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in criminal justice and public safety from Indiana University.