DPS chief says state encourages more online licensing services
Mississippi Department of Public Safety commissioner Sean Tindell visited the McComb Exchange Club on Thursday, providing an update on his department and a glimpse into its future.
Breaking down each of the areas controlled by his department, Tindell noted existing issues for the state, including wait times at driver’s license offices, understaffing at the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and the current opioid crisis.
Tindell was appointed commissioner last May and previously served as a judge on his home Gulf Coast, as well as the State Court of Appeals, State Senator and Deputy Attorney for the Counties of Harrison, Hancock and Stone.
He said when Gov. Tate Reeves approached him with the job, he was surprised and humbled by the offer.
“Overall, it’s such an honor to lead such an important agency, with such a good mission and to truly ensure the safety of the public,” he said.
He said that over the past two years, his department has reduced wait times at driver’s license stations from 2.5 hours to just 20 minutes by modernizing the process and reducing travel required.
He said that between the ages of 15 and 21, a Mississippian will need to visit a driver’s license office at least five to six times on average, from license to full license.
He said reducing needs and creating a smaller physical footprint was the office’s goal, adding that there had been measures including webcams to show lines in offices and the ability to renew. online firearms licenses.
Tindell said he’s working well with his counterparts in Louisiana to transpose things from Louisiana, such as his cybersecurity department and a digital wallet of phone apps that can display a driver’s license, vaccination card, insurance. and details on special needs.
He said the digital ID would be useful during roadside checks for officers, noting that the driver would not have to search for their cards and by using a Bluetooth connection an officer can know exactly who they are talking to even before to knock on the glass.
Cyber security is a huge problem in the country, Tindell said, noting that earlier this year a Harrison County school district was hit with ransomware that cost them $ 500,000. He said it was his job to prevent this from happening again.
“In the future, we will have a cybersecurity division that will take care of our state’s cyber issues. … We are going to see more and more cyber attacks, ”he said. “Part of that is defending, preventing cyber attacks, and the other part is making them do it.
“We have met people in Louisiana who have already established a cybersecurity force and it is quite fascinating to see what they have done and to engage not only the public sector but also the private sector to be part of their. strength. … We’re going to bring the same kind of model here in Mississippi.
Chad Reed, a member of the exchange club, asked why the state would want to go more virtual when much of the state is still rural, adding that he believes the licensing office should have more of a footprint physical than less.
Tindell said that by reducing its overall footprint, offices would have less traffic for those who don’t want or can’t use the internet for services.
Another issue Tindell spoke about was the State Crime Lab, which he says has been understaffed since at least the mid-1980s.
He said he is striving to have more staff who can lighten the workload of forensic pathologists and produce more reports faster. He said his ultimate goal would be to have a medical examiner’s office in the southern, central and northern districts of the state.
“In Mississippi, in the last year, we have doubled the number of homicides,” he said. “It’s a very taxing job, and at the moment we only have two forensic scientists working for the state, and it puts a lot of pressure on them to do these autopsies.”
He said his primary goal with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics is to break the cycle of abuse, noting that drug problems often descend from generation to generation and lead to further abuse and often human trafficking. .
“It goes deep and there is a lasting effect. It is becoming a multigenerational problem, ”he said. “We are trying to break this cycle and MBN is at the forefront of this problem.”