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Governor Appoints Secretary of Department of Public Safety, Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards

  • Governor Appoints Secretary of Department of Public Safety, Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards

LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson has appointed A.J. Gary, Director of Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, to Secretary of the Department of Public Safety, and J.R. Hankins, Chief of Staff to the Department of Public Safety, to the Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training, the Governor announced today.

“A.J. Gary has managed some of the most difficult natural disasters in our state, and the value of his contributions cannot be overstated,” Governor Hutchinson said. “The experience and skills that A.J. brings to this expanded role ensure that Arkansas’s public safety agencies will continue their good service to Arkansas.”

Mr. Gary has worked in law enforcement and security preparedness for more than 35 years. As former Chief of Police in Conway, Mr. Gary has the experience, knowledge, and understanding of what it takes to manage large operations that affect thousands of individuals. 

Mr. Gary holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Central Baptist College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Arkansas State University. In June 2016, Governor Hutchinson appointed Mr. Gary as Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the State Homeland Security Advisor and will continue this role alongside serving as Secretary.

Mr. Gary also serves on the Arkansas Safe Schools Committee, Arkansas Governor’s Earthquake Advisory Council, State Emergency Response Commission, Arkansas Wireless Information Network (AWIN) Executive Committee, and AWIN Intergovernmental Working Group, 2020-2021 Chair of the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) Executive Committee, and on the board of directors for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium. 

He is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates, Police Executive Research Forum, and Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP).

J.R. Hankins currently serves as Chief of Staff for the Department of Public Safety and will continue to serve along with his new role as Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training.

“J.R.’s experience in public safety and leadership provides him with a vision for the future of Arkansas’s law enforcement,” Governor Hutchinson said. “He will be a great benefit to the commission and the future of Arkansas.” 

Before taking the mantle as DPS Chief of Staff in 2019, his law enforcement career began at the Walnut Ridge Police Department in the spring of 1974, and two years later, he joined the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked as both a deputy and criminal investigator. In 1979, he obtained employment with the Arkansas State Police and was a member of recruit class 79-A. 

Mr. Hankins retired from the ASP in early 2014 with the rank of major and from serving as the Highway Patrol Commander over the Eastern District of Arkansas. 

Mr. Hankins returned to the Arkansas State Police in 2014, when he was asked by ASP Director Stan Witt to become the ASP “E-Crash” Program Manager, and to help establish and promote the new crash reporting system to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state of Arkansas.

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