A.J. Gary first entered public service as a member of the Arkansas Air National Guard, serving from 1980 to 1984. His career in law enforcement began in 1982 with the Conway Police Department, in Conway, Arkansas. A.J. was the first Conway officer selected to attend the FBI National Academy, from which he graduated in June of 1990. A.J.’s law enforcement career included criminal investigations, narcotics, SWAT and patrol. He came up through the ranks and was appointed Interim Police Chief in 2000 and served there until 2001. After 20 years of service to the citizens of Conway, A.J. retired in 2002 at the rank of Major, Patrol Division Commander.
A.J. then accepted a job as Chief Security Administrator for Air Transport International LLC, an international Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 121 air carrier. In this capacity, he was responsible for all international and domestic security related issues involving the airline, including security training for flight and cabin crews, facility security, and regulatory compliance with Transportation Security Administration and FAA. He also served on the safety and security committees of the Cargo Airline Association and the National Air Carrier Association.
A.J. returned to law enforcement in 2007 when he accepted the position of Chief of Police for the city of Conway. During his time as Chief, A.J. was appointed to the Criminal Justice Institute Advisory Board and served as chair of the legislative committee for the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP). In 2014, A.J. received the Arkansas Chief of the Year Award from his peers.
In June 2016, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson appointed A.J. as Director of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management and the State Homeland Security Advisor. State government transformation in July of 2019 aligned the agency under the Department of Public Safety as the Arkansas Division of Emergency Management. A.J. 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.
A.J. has a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Management and a master’s degree in Public Administration. When not working, A.J. spends time with his wife, three children and four grandchildren. He also enjoys fly-fishing, golf and making custom pens.