Governor Mary Fallin named Oklahoma Highway Patrol Maj. Billy D.”Rusty” Rhoades III Oklahoma’s commissioner of public safety.
Rep. Mike Ritze, a strong advocate of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety and ranking member of the House Public Safety Committee, supported the appointment of Rhoades.
“I have friends and family members that have served in the Oklahoma Highway Patrol,” Ritze said. “Our troopers have one of the hardest jobs in state government. From fatal crashes to high-speed chases, OHP officers have no idea what obstacles each day will bring. The resolve and dedication to service of the men and women that make up the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is only matched by their courage. I am pleased that the governor has chosen to promote one of our troopers to lead the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety. I have high hopes for Commissioner Rhoades, and I hope he knows that my door is always open to him.”
Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, represents District 80 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which represents parts of Tulsa and Wagoner Counties. He serves as chair of the House Public Health Committee.
Rhoades, of Choctaw, is a 28-year veteran of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, currently serving as zone commander for field operations in Troop M, based in Altus; Troop H, based in Clinton; Troop I, based in Guymon; and Troop J, based in Enid.
Fallin also appointed Rhoades to serve as secretary of safety and security on her Cabinet. His appointment to that position will require Senate confirmation during next year’s legislative session.
“Major Rhoades has spent his life protecting the people of Oklahoma, and his reputation as a skilled and dedicated member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is well known,” said Fallin. “He has the character and competence to lead the Department of Public Safety, and I’m proud to have him serve on my Cabinet.”
Rhoades succeeds Michael C. Thompson, whom Fallin appointed last month to serve as Oklahoma’s adjutant general and on her Cabinet as secretary of the military.
“I appreciate the confidence Governor Fallin has shown in me,” said Rhoades. “I will work to guide the Department of Public Safety to continued growth, while maintaining the strong traditions and standards of the agency. I intend to bring together and align the department around the common purpose of public safety and service to the public.”
Rhoades began his career with the patrol in 1989 as a patrolman with the Oklahoma Capitol Patrol. He served as a trooper in Mayes County in Troop L and in Oklahoma City in Troop A. He was assigned to the governor’s security detail for then-Gov. David Walters in 1994, and then later was assigned to serve on the FBI Gang/Violent Crimes Task Force and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force.
He was promoted to lieutenant in 2003 and was assigned to the state Capitol where he was responsible for daily security operations. He was promoted to captain in 2006, and his duties included serving as legislative liaison for the Department of Public Safety. He was promoted to major in 2009.