DHS Director opens up about firings, ethics training for employees

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The newly appointed Director of Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security is speaking out for the first time on major concerns within his department and how he’s trying to make changes.

Director Bryan Langley was appointed as Executive Director of IDHS by Governor Eric Holcomb on January 9, 2017 and he said he is taking measures to improve his department.

“We’ve had to make some decisions. Whether people have resigned or retired or, again, were fired. We’re taking the accountability,” he said in a sit-down interview with FOX59.

This year, state fire investigator Dennis Randle resigned one day after FOX59 discovered a mistake in the Flora fatal fire investigation. An accelerant was proven to be found in only one part of the house, unlike several parts of the home as an IDHS news release originally reported.

Then we raised questions about what appeared to be a conflict of interest in that case. The Indiana State Police investigator assigned to the Flora case had previously investigated the wife of Randle who was also working on the Flora case.

Then, there was the firing of IDHS Code Enforcement Chief Dave Smith for violating the agency’s sexual harassment policy.

And leaders at the Strand Theater in Shelbyville complained to FOX59 that they were being “bullied by the State Fire Marshal” as they tried to move forward on upgrading the building’s fire exit.

We asked Director Langley if those reports concerned him.

“Oh, quite frankly, they do,” he replied. “The biggest thing I see right now is making sure we get away from anything other than just being an ethically driven culture. A good work environment where people have new training.”

Langley said he and State Fire Marshal Jim Greeson have been working to make necessary changes and that includes terminations.

“We’ve had to make some decisions. Whether people have resigned or retired or again were fired,” he explained. “We’re taking the accountability. We’re driving this culture forward to be ethic(al) and I think the biggest thing for us is that we have really good staff who are helping me do so.”

Langley said he’s hired two new state fire investigators, a new ethics officer, and he’s providing new ethics training for employees which began several months ago.

As far as where the Flora case stands, Langley would not comment on the details of the investigation.

When asked about the appearance of a conflict among the two investigators, he said “Ultimately it’s hard for me to go back and look at that when I’m really focused on what we can do moving forward. I think there probably could be some things that could be addressed better with some better clarity.”

Langley believes the Flora case is in good hands with State Police. In June, we learned State Police took reigns over the investigation after what it called a “breakdown in communication” between agencies.

“The things that have been said in the press recently, those things no longer exist and some of those people used to be here. And we’ve got really new dynamic people coming in who are very diverse who are very process driven,” said Langley.

Langley said his department and staff “do not tolerate employee misconduct” and the fact he’s taking measures to clean up shop is a testament to how the department is moving towards the future.

He had this to say to the mother of the four girls killed in the Flora fire.

“I could not imagine your loss. I have two sons. And so I couldn’t imagine having two to four of your children? So my intent as the Director of Homeland Security is to better job of making sure we leverage, we communicate, we articulate our message. But our thoughts and prayers are with them, because I just cannot imagine what that would be like.”