Retiring TBI director takes aim at funding, staffing questions

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Retiring Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn did not hold back in a news conference Wednesday when he said the biggest challenge for the next director will be “staffing” and “funding at levels where they should be.”

Gwyn told Governor Bill Haslam last week he was leaving the TBI, but today he addressed some of the top issues faced by the agency he leads and why he was leaving.

“I have been contemplating retirement for three or four years,” said Gwyn. “The time is right when it’s good for me and good for the bureau.”

Gwyn has led the state’s top investigative agency for 14 years.

He said there’s no issue like a recent critical state audit about TBI budgeting driving him out, but he shot back that the story goes untold of an “underfunded” agency.

“In the last four to five years we have taken drastic cuts,” Gwyn said. “I began to generate revenue at the TBI which had not been done before and because of that– is the only reason we have not had massive layoffs.”

Gwyn generated revenue with fees for things like DUI blood testing, which last week was ruled unconstitutional by a state appeals court, but he emphasized that layoffs would mean delaying critical criminal testing and statewide investigations.

“That will be the biggest challenge for the new director.” he said. “That is to make sure the staffing get to the level it should be and the funding gets to the level it should.”

While avoiding layoffs, the TBI director has been at the forefront of sounding early alarms about opioid abuse and the recreational derivatives that can leave you dead in an instant, but beyond the business of Tennessee there was word about what Gywn will be doing next.

“Hunting, fishing and golfing,” he said with a laugh after the news conference.

Those who know him said Gwyn has gotten other job offers in the days since he announced his June first retirement date.

Governor Haslam will select a new director from a slate of three candidates given to him by a nominating commission.