On Feb. 19, 2020, the Board of Public Safety voted unanimously to approve former Tift County Sheriff Gary Vowell to serve as the interim commissioner of the Department of Public Safety.

Colonel Vowell is no stranger to DPS.  He is a Georgia native and lifelong law enforcement official.  Over the years, he has mentored hundreds of police officers, served in various leadership roles across the Peach State, and earned accolades for his service within the law enforcement community.  In 1976, Vowell started his law enforcement career in Americus as a communications officer for the Georgia State Patrol (GSP).  Vowell graduated as a member of the 51st Trooper School and was assigned to Post 13, Tifton and later became a Field Training Officer.  During this time, he was awarded numerous certificates for citations and drug interdiction by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and GSP.  Vowell is a former drug interdiction instructor for the Michigan State Police.  

In 1991, Vowell began working in the Safety Education Division, later becoming a certified Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) instructor for alcohol and drug awareness programs.  Vowell retired from the GSP in 1996.  Vowell was elected Tift County Sheriff in 1996.  In this role, he supervised 115 employees and managed the county’s 265-bed jail.  He retired from public office in late 2012.  He was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to serve on the Board of Public Safety from 2011 to 2012.  Vowell is a longtime member of the National Sheriff’s Association and the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.  He remains actively involved in his local community.

Vowell currently resides in Irwin County with his wife, Beth, who has worked for Southern Company for eighteen years. They attend Waterloo Baptist Church. They have three sons and six grandchildren.  Vowell is a volunteer for his grandchildren’s baseball, football, and soccer teams.