Gov. Mike Beebe has picked Stan Witt of Austin as the new director of the Arkansas State Police.
The announcement comes after Colonel J.R. Howard notified Beebe of his intention to retire at the end of this month. The official transition of leadership will occur on Friday, Aug. 31, according to a statement from Beebe’s office.
“JR was my friend long before he became Colonel, and I hate to see him leave the State Police,” Beebe said. “However, I understand his wish to go home to Searcy and spend more time with his family. I’ll be joining him in a little more than two years.”
Howard, who was 63 when he was named head of the State Police in April 2011, had served as the U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Prior to that, he directed the Arkansas State Crime Lab.
His most lengthy term of service was as a member of the Arkansas State Police. Howard began in 1971 as a trooper in the Highway Patrol Division, then spent 15 years in the Criminal Investigation Division, and eventually was promoted to director of the Western CID Section.
Major Witt, 55, began his law-enforcement career with the Walnut Ridge Police Department in 1975. He spent the next decade in various Northeast Arkansas departments, including a brief stint as the Lawrence County Sheriff. In 1985, he joined the Arkansas State Police and began patrolling highways in Sharp County. After a career of accomplishment and promotion, Witt was named the Administrative Services Division Commander earlier this year.
“Stan Witt has a wealth of law-enforcement experience, and will approach the role of Director with the thorough and even-handed manner that has earned him respect and admiration,” Beebe noted in the statement. “His 27 years with the ASP have made him an expert in policies, practices and procedures: knowledge that will service him well as the leader of this great agency.”