Gov. Asa Hutchinson has appointed A.J. Gary, director of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management, to secretary of the Department of Public Safety and J.R. Hankins, chief of staff to the department, to director of the Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
Jami Cook resigned from both positions, effective Aug. 5, citing health problems.
Gary has worked in law enforcement and security preparedness for more than 35 years. The former chief of police in Conwat holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Central Baptist College and a MPA from Arkansas State University.
Gary was appointed director of ADEM and state homeland security advisor in 2016. He will continue serving in the advisor role. He 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. Gary is the 2020-21 chair of the Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) Executive Committee, and he's on the board of directors for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.
Gary also is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates, Police Executive Research Forum and Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police.
Hankins will continue to serve in his chief of staff role. He has been chief of staff since 2019, and his law enforcement career began at the Walnut Ridge Police Department in 1974. Two years later, he joined the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked as both a deputy and criminal investigator. In 1979, he joined the Arkansas State Police.
Hankins retired from the ASP in early 2014 with the rank of major and from seving as the Highway Patrol Commander over the Eastern District of Arkansas.
He returned to the ASP in 2014, when he was asked by Director Stan Witt to become its “E-Crash” Program Manager, and to help establish and promote the new crash reporting system to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.