Message from UAPD Chief Gahagans

To the community of the University of Arkansas:

Our department has been following events and conversations surrounding the discussion on police brutality and systemic racism.  Hearing the voices of #BlackAtUARK and others about their experiences at the University of Arkansas provides an opportunity for us to further engage in communication and understanding with an ultimate goal of producing results from action.

Throughout our history starting in the 1970’s under the leadership of Lawrence Slamons, our department has always embraced and supported a “safe, equitable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and anti-racist campus.” We were the first police department in the state of Arkansas to achieve nationally accredited standing from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Standards.  Today we are accredited by three (3) governing bodies:  national, state, and university levels.

We wholeheartedly share your view about police brutality and racism; it is not tolerated in this department and never has been.  We can solidly stand on our record, and we will not rest on our laurels as there is still work to be done to bridge gaps.  As the past president of the African American Resource Group, I understand the challenges we continue to face, and our department will work tirelessly with others to stomp out police brutality, discrimination, and racism.

We recently met as a department to discuss police brutality and racism.  We’re attending online and face to face meetings about the problems of discrimination, racism, and police brutality.  We’re doing more training on de-escalation focusing on scenario-based training this Fall and beyond.  We have invested in a Firearms Training Simulation System to work on judgement and decision making.  We’re planning to start a citizen’s police academy in the Spring of 2021, we’re conducting Town Hall meetings with members of our community to help fill gaps in understanding and action (stand by for the schedule), we’re continuing to be part of campus wide committees, and we’re updating all of our policies to include Use of Force policies.

Appreciable action followed by results is paramount.  You’re about action and so are we.  In 2015, we fully adopted the president’s 21st century policing recommendations, highlighting six pillars:

  1. Building Trust and Legitimacy
  2. Policy and Oversight
  3. Technology and Social Media
  4. Community Policing and Crime Reduction
  5. Officer Training and Education
  6. Officer Safety and Wellness

“When any part of the American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that’s a problem for all of us,” said President Barack Obama at that time.

We, the University of Arkansas Police Department, a diverse and inclusive department, stands with you to stop any actions by police that are brutal, illegal, and unjustified by established case law, state law, policy, best practices, and court decisions.


Together, we’re making a difference.




Stephen Gahagans
Chief, University of Arkansas Police Department