OXFORD – As a 30-year veteran of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, David Shaw has worked his share of calamities from wrecks and fires to tornadoes and ice storms.
Now he looks at such events from a different perspective.
The Harmontown native has served since June as Lafayette County’s emergency management coordinator – a job that will inevitably offer opportunities to respond but now focuses day to day on preparing for those inevitabilities.
“It was one of those fortunate things for the county,” said Board of Supervisors President Lloyd Oliphant. “His retirement from the Department of Public Safety coincided pretty closely with the opening we had.”
When the job was advertised, Shaw’s qualifications as retired director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation stood above a strong crowd of contenders.
“With David’s background, he pretty much had all the important contacts on speed dial,” Oliphant said. “I think we were very fortunate to get him.”
Much of Shaw’s work deals with preparation for the inevitabilities and the maybes.
“Of course there are weather emergencies like a tornado or ice storm, but there’s also the possibility of a truck going down the highway that wrecks while carrying hazardous materials,” he said.
“Planning is the biggest part of the job, and there’s about a three- or four-year list of training that’s required for a person coming into this job.”
Shaw’s ambitions were shaped early in his career by his father’s position as a Highway Patrol officer.
“I went to Ole Miss anticipating I would go into law enforcement,” he said. He started as a trooper and added accident scene reconstruction and then crime investigation to his skills. He spent his last three years as MBI’s director.
“In the criminal investigation division … it was satisfying to know that at least in some of the occasions, we had the opportunity to help send some really bad people away for a while.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, he and other state officers spent months on the Coast helping coordinate the initial recovery efforts.
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal