Mayor Whitmire Appoints Thomas Muñoz as Acting Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security

Jo-Carolyn Goode | 5/31/2024, 1:27 p.m.
In a decisive move to strengthen Houston's public safety framework, Mayor John Whitmire has appointed Thomas Muñoz as the acting …
Thomas Muñoz

In a decisive move to strengthen Houston's public safety framework, Mayor John Whitmire has appointed Thomas Muñoz as the acting Director of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Muñoz, who has served as the Deputy Director for this office, will continue his pivotal role as Emergency Management Coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management.

Thomas Muñoz's appointment comes on the heels of George Buenik's retirement, who led the office with distinction since 2017. Mayor Whitmire extended his gratitude to Chief Buenik for his unwavering dedication and exemplary service to the city, noting his prior esteemed career as an Assistant Chief in the Houston Police Department.

"Houston faced three severe weather events in 2024, and Tom has demonstrated exceptional leadership in steering our emergency operations through these challenging times," said Mayor Whitmire. "His expertise is unparalleled, and I am confident that he is the right person to lead our public safety efforts. Under his guidance, Houstonians will remain well-informed, prepared, and protected."

The Mayor's Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security is integral to the city's crisis management infrastructure, overseeing the Office of Emergency Management, the Houston Emergency Center, and managing grants focused on enhancing homeland security.

Expressing his gratitude for the mayor's trust, Muñoz said, "This is an incredible honor, and I am proud to have the support of Mayor Whitmire. Disasters can strike at any moment in Houston, and we have a dedicated team ready to safeguard our residents and provide essential resources during crises."

Chief Muñoz brings over 26 years of experience as a first responder and emergency manager. Before joining Houston OEM, he served as the Emergency Manager and Homeland Security Director for Texas City and had a distinguished 24-year career with the Houston Fire Department, reaching the rank of Assistant Chief of Homeland Security and Planning in 2017.

Adding to his impressive credentials, Muñoz retired as Commander from the United States Coast Guard (Reserve) after 21 years of service. His tenure in the Coast Guard saw him in critical roles such as Deputy Incident Commander for the New Orleans Vessel Removal Projects and Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer during Hurricane Maria in San Juan, PR. In recognition of his service, he received the Captain Edward R. Williams United States Coast Guard Reserve Award for Excellence and five USCG Commendation Medals.

Muñoz's academic achievements are equally notable. He holds Master's degrees in Emergency Management and Homeland Security from American Military University and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Crisis Communications from Texas Tech University. His educational background also includes a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Houston, Executive Leadership and Management Certification from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business, and graduation from the Homeland Security Executive Leadership Program at the Naval Postgraduate School. Additionally, he completed the Component National Security Course at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

As Muñoz steps into his new role, the residents of Houston can rest assured that their safety is in capable hands. With a wealth of experience and a proven track record, Thomas Muñoz is poised to lead the city's public safety and homeland security initiatives with dedication and expertise.

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