Alumnus Appointed New Director of Arkansas State Police

William J. Bryant (’74) is Arkansas’ newly appointed State Police Director. He recited his oath and assumed the rank of Colonel in the Arkansas State Police on January 12, 2015.

In announcing his selection to lead the state’s largest law enforcement agency, Governor Asa Hutchinson commended Bryant for his, “integrity and dedication recognized by law enforcement professionals across the country.”

Bryant’s lifelong career as a law enforcement officer began in 1976 as an officer of the Sam Houston State University Police Department. Today he commands a department of 531 commissioned Arkansas State Troopers and a civilian support staff of 419 personnel.

While working as a SHSU police officer he was under the tutelage of then-University Police Chief Charles Tackett, who passed away in September after a 51 year career in law enforcement. Chief Tackett is credited with mentoring many criminal justice students who went on to distinguished and successful careers in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Former University Police Chief Charles Tackett was Bryant's mentor.
“Chief Tackett was a great mentor who really took interest in the men and women who wanted to go into law enforcement,” Bryant said. “He taught us integrity and report writing, and I could always call him for advice as I progressed through my law enforcement career.”

Later as a student attending SHSU Bryant joined the Huntsville Police Department and rose to the rank of lieutenant within the department’s Criminal Investigation Division.

“I learned how to deal with people on an interpersonal scale,” said Bryant. “I also learned to investigate homicides, robberies and sexual assaults.”

While holding his position as a Huntsville Police Officer, Bryant completed his education at SHSU earning his BS in Law Enforcement & Police Science and MA in Police Science and Administration.

Director Bryant is sworn in with wife Patti at his side.
It was as a student at SHSU that Bryant met his future wife, Patti Inskeep also a student and graduate. Bill and Patti Bryant have been married 35 years.

In 1984 Bryant joined the ranks of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). His initial assignment was Dallas and later Little Rock where he was credited in leading a targeted attack on methamphetamine trafficking, both in small operations set up in backyard sheds and large operation run by the Mexican drug cartels.

After rising to the rank of Resident Agent in Charge of the Office, he was transferred to DEA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served in diverse capacities, including in the Office of Inspections, as detailee to U.S. House of Representative Judiciary Committee, as Special Assistant to the Chief of Domestic Operations and, finally, as the Chief of the Office of Congressional Affairs. In Washington, he served under DEA Administrators Donnie Marshall and Asa Hutchinson (now Arkansas governor).

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson stands next to Director Bryant.
“The Arkansas State Police is a hard-working, great organization,” said Bryant during a recent interview. “I hope to bring in some new ideas and learn how to make it more effective and efficient.”

The department is comprised of five divisions, Highway Patrol Division, Criminal Investigation Division, Crimes Against Children Division, Administrative Services Division and Regulatory Division. The primary duty of the department is to patrol the state’s highways ensuring the safety and protection of motorists as well as assist local law enforcement agencies with available State Police resources.

Bryant credits his time in Washington, D.C. with learning the intricacies of working with legislators and providing expert opinion on crime and justice issues necessary in the development of new laws.

Bryant was part of the DEA New Orleans Division.
Following his assignment in Washington, Colonel Bryant returned to Little Rock as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Little Rock Office. It was there he completed his 30 year career, retiring in January 2014.

Before answering the call from Governor Hutchinson seeking a State Police Director, Bryant was working as the State Director for the Gulf Coast High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.

“I love the state and when the governor offered me the job, I felt a sense of duty to take it,” said Bryant. “It is a great organization and they treat me as family.”

Bryant served with the DEA and Gulf Coast HIDTA.
Bryant said that Sam Houston State University provided a good foundation for his career, especially faculty members like Drs. George Beto and Raymond Teske, who is the godfather to his daughter.

Today Bryant urges students to get their education and find a field in which they are interested. If they would like to pursue a job in a federal agency, he suggests learning the ropes at a local police department.

“My work with the DEA was demanding,” Bryant said. “Traveling the world, doing things most people never get the chance to do, but the job was also rewarding knowing I was doing something good for our nation, but now it’s time for the next chapter in my life and help take the Arkansas State Police to the next level in professionalism and service.”

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