Governor Picks Former Conway Police Chief To Head Department Of Emergency Management

May 31, 2016

Arkansas Department of Emergency Management director David Maxwell (right) and Arkansas Natural Resources Commission executive director Randy Young (left) testify to a joint meeting of legislative committees on levees and flooding.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

The state agency responsible for coordinating disaster responses between a wide array of local, state, and federal organizations is getting a new director. Governor Asa Hutchinson announced on Tuesday he is bringing in former Chief of Police for the Conway Police Department A.J. Gary as director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

On July 1, Gary will replace current director David Maxwell who has planned to retire at the end of June.

“I am pleased to announce A.J. Gary as the next Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. His background, knowledge and experience make him an excellent fit for the job. I also want to recognize and thank Director Maxwell for his leadership and service over the years in helping to ensure the safety of all Arkansans. A.J. will be a great addition to an already stellar team, and I am confident our state won’t miss a beat with him at the helm.”

Gary began working in law enforcement in 1982 and currently is the director of security and compliance for the Arkansas Lottery.

"I am honored and humbled that Governor Hutchinson selected me as the Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. I want to thank David Maxwell for his many years of service to ADEM. I have had the pleasure of working with David over the years and wish him and his family well as he enters retirement. I look forward to working with the team members of ADEM as together we serve the citizens of the State of Arkansas. I am excited about the challenges ahead and look forward to this great opportunity to serve others."

The governor’s office released its background information on Gary in a press release.

A.J. Gary has worked in law enforcement and security preparedness for more than 35 years. As former Chief of Police in Conway, Gary has the experience, knowledge and understanding of what it takes to manage large operations that affect thousands of individuals. He began his law enforcement career in 1982 with the Conway Arkansas Police Department and graduated from the FBI National Academy in 1990, becoming the first Conway officer selected to attend the academy.  He’s held positions in all areas of law enforcement, including: SWAT, narcotics, and criminal investigations. In 2002, Gary retired from the Conway Police Department after 20 years of service – at the rank of Major, Patrol Division Commander – to become Chief Security Administrator for Air Transport International LLC, an international FAA Part 121 air carrier. In 2007, Gary returned to the Conway Police Department as Chief of Police for Conway Arkansas. Gary has been the Director of Security/Compliance for the State of Arkansas, Office of Arkansas Lottery since 2015.

Gary holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management from Central Baptist College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Arkansas State University. He was appointed to the Criminal Justice Institute Advisory Board in 2011 by Governor Mike Beebe and reappointed to the board in 2015 by Governor Hutchinson. In September 2015, Gary was appointed to the Supreme Court Committee on Security and Emergency Preparedness. He is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates, Police Executive Research Forum, and Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP). He currently serves as the representative at large of the AACP executive board, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) State of Arkansas representative and serves on the Board of Directors for the Arkansas Crises Response Team. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Cargo Airline Association and Security Committee of the National Air Carriers Association in Washington DC. In 2005 he assisted on the Business Roundtable Security Task Force Subcommittee on Port and Supply Chain Security.

Gary lives in Conway with his wife, Kim. He has three children and one grandchild.