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Sanders announces appointments to head Public Safety, Emergency Management offices


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.—Governor-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders today announced her intention to nominate Captain Mike Hagar as the next Secretary of the Department of Public Safety. Additionally, Sanders announced that she will appoint Hagar to serve as Director of the Division of Arkansas State Police concurrently. Sanders also said that the current Secretary of Public Safety has agreed to remain the Director of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management.

“Captain Mike Hagar is the right person to help me build a safer, stronger Arkansas as the incoming Secretary of Public Safety and Director of State Police,” Sanders said. “As violent crime is on the rise and deadly, illegal drugs are flooding our communities, now more than ever we need a strong, experienced leader who will be tough on crime – and I am confident that Captain Hagar is that person. His proven leadership throughout his 26 years of service with Arkansas State Police makes him the clear choice to help me protect all Arkansans from harm. Our state also must be fully prepared to deal with any emergency to protect our citizens, and AJ Gary has done a great job as Director of Emergency Management, which is why I am pleased he has committed to staying on in that capacity. I look forward to working with both individuals in the years ahead.”

“Arkansas has a serious crime problem, and I am ready to get to work on day one addressing it,” Hagar said. “Governor-elect Sanders has the right vision to bring safety back to our communities, and I’m honored that she has chosen me to be the next Secretary of Public Safety and leader of the brave men and women who make up the Arkansas State Police.”

“I’m looking forward to joining the Sanders Administration and continuing to ensure that our state is always prepared for the next disaster or emergency,” Gary said. “The men and women who make up ADEM are the best, and I am excited to continuing leading this critical division.”

Captain Mike Hagar biography:
Captain Mike Hagar is currently the captain of Troop A, Highway Patrol Division – the largest field command in the state – and has more than 26 years of service with Arkansas State Police. 

As the Troop A Captain, he oversees a staff of more than 70 commissioned and non-commissioned personnel while coordinating with other law enforcement agencies. He also currently serves on the Arkansas State Police Association’s executive board.

Prior to commanding Troop A, Captain Hagar served on the Executive Protection Detail for more than 14 years – rising in the ranks from trooper to captain. As Captain, he supervised all operations regarding the security of the Governor of Arkansas, immediate family, and the Governor’s Mansion Grounds, coordinated all logistics for the Governor’s domestic and international travel, and evaluated threat assessments. In 2016, he was elected to the Executive Board of the National Governor’s Security Association.

For 10 years, he served concurrently on the ASP SWAT team serving high risk arrest / search warrants and finished his tenure with the rank of Entry Team Leader and Assistant Tactical Commander. He also spent three years as a sergeant at the ASP Training Division coordinating all training responsibilities for Troop School. 

Captain Hagar has received multiple official commendations for exceptional service, including a Legislative Citation of Merit for Service Beyond the Call of Duty and the Trooper’s Cross with Valor for actions taken during an armed confrontation with a suspect during a hostage situation. 

Captain Hagar received his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 1995, he graduated from the Little Rock Police Academy and in 2012, he graduated from Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, Session #332. He currently resides in Conway.

AJ Gary biography:
Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed A.J. Gary as Secretary of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on August 3, 2022, with administrative responsibilities for the State’s public safety agencies: Commission on Law Enforcement Standards & Training, State Police, Division of Emergency Management, Crime Information Center, and Crime Lab. The Crime Victims Reparations Board and Fire Prevention Commission are also under his purview.

A.J. serves concurrently as DPS Secretary, Director of the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management (ADEM), and State Homeland Security Advisor – each by governor’s appointment. He serves on numerous committees, including Arkansas Safe Schools, Infrastructure Planning Advisory Committee, Governor’s Cyber Advisory Council, Arkansas Governor’s Earthquake Advisory Council, Chair on the Arkansas Levee Task Force, Chair on the Arkansas 911 Board, Governors Homeland Security Advisors Council (GHSAC) Executive Committee, and on the board of directors for the Central United States Earthquake Consortium.

He is a retired police chief, serving over 28 years with the Conway Police Department. During a break in his law enforcement career, A.J. was the Chief Security Administrator for Air Transport International LLC, an international FAA Part 121 air carrier. In this capacity, he was responsible for all international and domestic security related issues involving the airline, including flight and cabin crew security training, facility security, and TSA and FAA regulatory compliance.

A.J. has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management and a Master’s of Public Administration. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and attended the Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security’s Executive Leadership Program. When not working, A.J. spends time with his wife, three children and four grandchildren. He also enjoys fly fishing.

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