Louisiana governor names new homeland security agency chief

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards announced Thursday that his top homeland security adviser is resigning, and he named the agency’s chief deputy to the position.

James Waskom is on medical leave until January, when he’ll formally leave the position he’s held since the start of the Edwards administration in January 2016. Casey Tingle will take over as director of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

Tingle will lead an agency responding to multiple disasters, including Hurricane Ida this year and Hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta last year.

Edwards praised Waskom’s tenure in a statement, saying Waskom is leaving because it’s “best for him and his family.”

“I feel deeply indebted to him for his dedication, counsel and drive on behalf of our people,” Edwards said. “After six years, six hurricanes, the historic 2016 floods, winter storms and the pandemic, I feel that I have been in the trenches with Jim, who has been a steady leader.”

Tingle has been with the homeland security agency since 2009. Edwards said he’s worked in several roles at the office, “giving him a broad overview of the agency’s functions and the best way that it can serve our local leaders and our people during times of crisis.”

Waskom received strong criticism earlier this week from the Louisiana House’s second-ranking leader about Edwards’ temporary housing program for people impacted by Ida.

Rep. Tanner Magee, a Houma Republican who lives in one of the hardest-hit parishes, accused Waskom of a “sense of complacency” about the slow placement of trailers and said Waskom appeared bothered by requests for information.

Waskom’s office defended the performance of the housing program, saying the site inspections and preparation work required to place a trailer take time.

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