Executive Director, Public Safety Institute
Bill Gibbons became Executive Director of the Public Safety Institute (PSI) at The University of Memphis in September of 2016, as well as President of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.
Prior to joining the PSI and Crime Commission, from 2011 through August of 2016, Gibbons served in Governor Bill Haslam's cabinet as Commissioner for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security and chaired a subcabinet of all state executive branch departments and agencies involved in public safety to develop a single, consistent state agenda to combat crime.
Gibbons began his state government career in 1979 as a special policy assistant to former Governor Lamar Alexander and then returned to private law practice in 1981. He rejoined state government in 1996, when then Governor Don Sundquist named him District Attorney General for Shelby County in order to fill an unexpired term. Gibbons was then elected to a pair of eight-year terms in 1998 and 2006 and served a total of approximately 14 years.
Prior to serving as District Attorney, Gibbons was a partner in the law firm of Evans & Petree.
The Crime Commission is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a facilitator to bring public and private leaders and agencies together to focus on comprehensive crime prevention, intervention, and reduction practices in Shelby County. Spearheaded by the Crime Commission, Operation: Safe Community is a crime plan with goals and objectives designed to meet the crime challenge. The Public Safety Institute (PSI), in addition to other assignments, serves as a research arm to evaluate individually each objective of the Operation: Safe Community crime plan.
Gibbons chaired Operation: Safe Community from 2009-2015. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA), and the American Prosecutors Research Institute (APRI), as well as the U. S. Department of Justice's Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Gibbons also served in part-time elective positions as a member of both the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission.
Born in El Dorado, Arkansas, Gibbons holds both undergraduate and law degrees from Vanderbilt University.
He is married to United States Court of Appeals Judge Julia S. Gibbons. They have two children.
Linda H. Russell
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director
Public Safety Institute
Linda Russell joined the Public Safety Institute (PSI) and Memphis Shelby Crime Commission in September of 2016. The Crime Commission is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a facilitator to bring public and private leaders and agencies together to focus on comprehensive crime prevention, intervention, and reduction practices in Shelby County. Spearheaded by the Crime Commission, Operation: Safe Community is a crime plan with goals and objectives designed to meet the crime challenges. The Public Safety Institute (PSI), in addition to other assignments, serves as a research arm to evaluate individually each objective of the Operation: Safe Community crime plan.
Prior to joining the PSI and Crime Commission, Russell served in Nashville, Tennessee as the Special Policy Advisor for the Department of Safety and Homeland Security beginning in February 2011 under the administration of Commissioner Bill Gibbons. In that capacity she served as the chief staff assistant to the Governor's Public Safety Subcabinet. Prior to her position with the Department of Safety and Homeland Security she worked in administration with the office of the Shelby County District Attorney General for over 8 years.
Russell, a native Memphian, received her education in Memphis and began her government career in the Computer Division of the Internal Revenue Service. A year and a half later, Russell accepted a position in the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, serving a total of 19 years with the federal government.
Senior Research Assistant
Max Helms, Lead Research Assistant, received a Master's degree in Criminal Justice from The University of Memphis and a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Austin Peay State University. He joined the Public Safety Institute (PSI) in July of 2017.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and having worked in multiple cities across Tennessee, he has a background in security, loss prevention, data analysis, and mapping.
He is married to Brianna Siebert, the Membership and Volunteer Manager for the Memphis Botanic Garden.
Dr. Amaia Iratzoqui, associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, serves as the Public Safety Institute’s research director. Dr. Iratzoqui specializes in research around the gendered causes and consequences of victimization, including domestic and intimate partner violence. Her recent work explores the implications of gender and victimization within Memphis and Shelby County through partnerships with agencies, including the Memphis Police Department, Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center, Family Safety Center, CasaLuz, Kindred Place, and other domestic violence-serving organizations.
Prior to becoming research director, Dr. Iratzoqui partnered with the Public Safety Institute to assess the effectiveness of domestic violence services in Memphis and Shelby County. As research director, she works to connect faculty with practitioners within and around Shelby County to (1) conduct research and evaluations addressing crime and crime prevention, including assessments of various steps under the latest local Safe Community Action Plan (2022-2026) and (2) identify and pursue additional grant opportunities.