City of Houston Mayor's Office of Communications 

Mayor's Press Release

Mayor Whitmire Appoints Thomas Muñoz as Acting Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security

Thomas MunozMay 30, 2024 -- Mayor John Whitmire has appointed Thomas Muñoz as the acting Director of the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security. Muñoz most recently served as the Deputy Director for this office and will maintain his role as Emergency Management Coordinator for the Office of Emergency Management.

Muñoz's appointment follows the retirement of George Buenik, who had served in the position since 2017. Mayor Whitmire thanks Chief Buenik for his leadership and dedication to the City during his tenure. He had previously served a distinguished career as an Assistant Chief in the Houston Police Department.

"Houston experienced three severe weather events in 2024, and Tom has done an outstanding job leading our emergency operations. During those events, I worked closely with Chief Muñoz," said Mayor Whitmire. "His leadership is unmatched, and I know he is the right person to serve as acting director. He will keep Houstonians informed, prepared, and protected."

The Mayor's Office of Public Safety & Homeland Security oversees the Office of Emergency Management, the Houston Emergency Center, and grants focused on homeland security.

"This is an incredible honor, and I'm proud to have the support of the mayor. We know that disasters can happen at any time in Houston, and we have a strong team that will safeguard our residents and assist in times of crisis to ensure everyone has access to the resources they need," said Muñoz.

Chief Muñoz is currently appointed to FEMA's National Advisory Council and has more than 26 years of experience as a first responder and emergency manager. Before joining Houston OEM, he served as the Emergency Manager and Homeland Security Director for Texas City following a 24-year career with the Houston Fire Department, achieving the rank of Assistant Chief of Homeland Security and Planning in 2017.

Muñoz also retired as Commander from the United States Coast Guard (Reserve) after 21 years of service. While in the United States Coast Guard, he served as the Deputy Incident Commander for the New Orleans Vessel Removal Projects, the Texas City Y Spill Liaison, and the Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer during Hurricane Maria in San Juan, PR. In 2007, he received the Captain Edward R. Williams United States Coast Guard Reserve Award for Excellence. He is also the recipient of five USCG Commendation Medals.

Muñoz holds a Master's degree in Emergency Management and a Master's degree in Homeland Security from American Military University and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Crisis Communications from Texas Tech University. He received his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Houston. Muñoz completed the Executive Leadership and Management Certification from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business and is a Homeland Security Executive Leadership Program graduate from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also completed the Component National Security Course at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.