Rausch expected to seek full six-year appointment as head of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

NASHVILLE - The state is accepting applications for a new six-year appointment as head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Current Director David Rausch, a then-Knoxville police chief appointed four years ago by then-Gov. Bill Haslam to replace former Director Mark Gwyn, is expected to apply to keep the post.

"This is just part of the procedural process required for the director's position at the end of each term," TBI spokesman Josh DeVine said in response to a Times Free Press inquiry. "Current TBI Director David Rausch has indicated he intends to pursue reappointment."

The TBI has statutory authority to conduct criminal investigations and make arrests of crimes throughout Tennessee.

Gwyn, who during his tenure made the battle against human trafficking a high-profile issue, stepped down 18 months into his term amid several complaints about agency operations.

There were gripes Gwyn used the TBI's plane too much. State lawmakers like Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, were concerned about agency spending and had called for a state comptroller audit. It showed the TBI used agency reserves to stave off personnel cuts over a four-year period.

Last week, Rausch had his own court loss. The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled the agency was bound by a trial judge's order to expunge criminal charges against a McNairy County plaintiff even if the agency disagreed with the order.

During this year's General Assembly session, TBI joined with Tennessee Department of Safety officials to battle the state's growing hemp industry. Law enforcement agencies sought to persuade lawmakers to ban delta-8 and delta-10 products, currently legal, because of the products' hemp-derived psychoactive cannabinoids, which can produce a high.

The fight ended in a stalemate. Law enforcement's effort to ban the delta-8 and delta-10 failed to make it out of a House committee. Efforts by the industry to put the drug on a sounder legal basis and impose new regulations, including banning children and teens from being able to buy delta-8 and delta-10-laced gummy bears and other products, passed in a House committee. But it never came to the House floor after the idea went nowhere in the Senate.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.