The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently announced the promotion of three employees to leadership positions. The promotions include Brady Mills and Michelle Farris to newly-created chief positions — Chief of the Crime Laboratory Division and Chief of the Crime Records Division, respectively — and Ron Zilkha to Assistant Chief of Innovation and Application Services within the Information Technology Division.
The promotions were approved at the December meeting of the Public Safety Commission (PSC). The new chiefs and assistant chief will be stationed at DPS’ Austin headquarters.
“We are pleased to be able to recognize talented DPS employees for their hard work and contributions to the department,” said PSC Chairman Steven Mach. “These three individuals have shown tremendous dedication to the state of Texas during their exemplary careers, and I’m confident they will continue with that same commitment to excellence in their new roles within DPS.”
DPS Director Steven McCraw also commended the promotions.
“The department is fortunate to have outstanding employees within our ranks to fill vital leadership positions, and I look forward to each of these individuals taking on their new roles,” McCraw said. “Through their leadership, I know they will lead their divisions forward and help DPS continue to serve as a model for other law enforcement agencies to follow.”
DPS’ Law Enforcement Support Division (LESD) will be split into two separate divisions at the end of the year, following the retirement of the current LESD chief, Mike Lesko. The promotions of Mills and Farris come following approval by the PSC to create the two new divisions — the Crime Laboratory Division and the Crime Records Division — with new chief positions for Mills and Farris, respectively.
Brady Mills, Chief of the Crime Laboratory Division
Mills most recently served as an assistant chief within LESD, overseeing the department’s Crime Laboratory Service since 2014. Mills has more than 24 years of service with DPS. From 1996 through 2014, he served in various positions within the Crime Laboratory Service, including assistant crime laboratory director, quality assurance, forensic scientist, CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) analyst and DNA section manager of the Austin Laboratory. During his time with DPS, Mills served as the vice chair of the Association of Forensic DNA Analysts and Administrators and president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors. In addition, Mills has served on the National Commission on Forensic Science Accreditation and Proficiency Testing Subcommittee, the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies Forensic Science Committee and the IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) Forensic Science Committee. Mills graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology in 1994. In 2010, he graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Master of Science in Biology. Mills’ promotion is effective Jan. 1, 2021.
Michelle Farris, Chief of the Crime Records Division
Farris most recently served as an assistant chief within LESD, overseeing the Crime Records Service since 2018. Farris first joined DPS in 1996 and began her career in the criminal histories section. Since then, she has been promoted into various leadership roles within the Criminal Histories and Texas Data Exchange areas of Crime Records, and she became manager of the Crime Information Bureau in 2010. In 2014, Farris was promoted to a deputy administrator position. In 2018, she became assistant chief of Crime Records, overseeing Criminal Justice Information Systems and Services (CJIS), including the Computerized Criminal History database, Multi-Modal Biometric Information System, Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST), the Sex Offender Registry, TxGang, Texas Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (TLETS), the Texas Crime Information Center (TCIC) and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In addition to her career with DPS, Farris is the state representative for the International Justice and Public Safety Network, serving as a regional chair. She also serves on the International Justice and Public Safety Network Board of Directors and participates in its finance and management committee and the Brodie Assistance Fund committee. She also serves as the vice chair of the FBI Advisory Policy Board’s National Data Exchange subcommittee and as a member of the task force for the next generation of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Farris earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Texas in Austin. Farris’ promotion is effective Jan. 1, 2021.
Ron Zilkha, Assistant Chief of Innovation and Application Services
Zilkha began working for DPS in 2018, serving as the director of IT Performance Management. The following year, he was promoted to Enterprise Data Officer, where he stayed until his current promotion. Zilkha began his state service in 2012 with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services as a Lead Systems Analyst, where he led application development projects and support teams for CAPPS Financials. Upon earning his Project Management Professional certification, Zilkha took a position at the Texas Department of Transportation. In 2016, after becoming a Certified Scrum Master, Zilkha moved to the TIERS group at Texas Health and Human Services, helping to lead a team through a major organizational change. Zilkha has also earned his Amazon Web Services Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and earned his Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Arizona. Zilkha’s promotion was effective Dec. 14, 2020.