Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Aug. 3 that he has appointed AJ Gary to the position of Secretary of the Department of Public Safety and J.R. Hankins as Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards, after the two positions were vacated by the resignation of Jami Cook in late July.
“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.”
Gary has more than 35 years of experience in law enforcement and security and possesses the skills necessary to lead an organization and manage large operations that affect thousands of lives. With a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Central Baptist College and a master’s in public administration from Arkansas State University, Gary was formerly the Chief of Police in Conway and currently serves as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the State Homeland Security Advisor. He will continue to hold these positions in addition to his new role.
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.
J.R. Hankins is currently the Chief of Staff for the Department of Public Safety and, like Gary, will continue to serve in this position as well as his new role as Director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
Hankins has a career in law enforcement stretching back to 1974, when he joined the Walnut Ridge Police Department. Two years later, he moved to the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department as a deputy and criminal investigator, then moved again in 1979 to the Arkansas State Police. He retired from the ASP in 2014 at the rank of major with the position of Highway Patrol Commander over the Eastern District of Arkansas.
This retirement lasted less than a year, and before the end of 2014 he returned at the request of ASP director Stan Witt to become the ASP “E-Crash” program manager to help establish and promote the new crash reporting system to law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
“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.”
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