LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A former Arkansas State Police director says the current director should resign.
The call comes after accusations the colonel and other members of the command staff are manipulating the promotions process, something the governor refutes.
On February 10, 2022, former Arkansas State Police (ASP) Director Tom Mars sent a 19-page letter to the State Police Commission, a group of people who approves all promotions.
Mars claims Director Colonel Bill Bryant and certain members of his command staff have manipulated the ASP promotional process and withheld relevant information from the commission.
Mars represents several clients, including Captain Stacie Rhoads, whose eyeing the open rank of major.
“Their purpose is to uncover and to have someone correct these unlawful employment practices. They’re not just wrong, they’re illegal,” said Mars.
Mars claims the promotions process took a turn after the Working 4 You investigation into State Police pit maneuvers.
Mars, who is not currently suing ASP, said Colonel Bryant changed State Police policy that the agency’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) would now investigate PIT maneuvers.
In a meeting nearly a year ago, Mars said Captain Rhoads expressed concerns that CID had no formal training or any experience investigating the execution of PIT maneuvers.
“She had conversations with other field commanders before this meeting who expressed the same concern about this particular issue. She just happened to be the one who was willing to stand up during the meeting,” said Mars.
Mars said some members of the command staff retaliated against Rhoads after she suggested the policy be changed.
The attorney said someone launched an investigation into a so-called missing rifle from the evidence room.
“Suggesting she might be at fault for this gun being missing, which wasn’t missing at all,” he said.
Mars claims three months later, a major wrote an annual performance review that expressed concerns about her responses:
“On occasion, Captain Rhoads allows her responses to be driven by emotion instead of analyzing the situation and providing a measured response.”
Mars said it is a classic example of gender discrimination.
Governor Asa Hutchinson said he is supporting his colonel.
“It’s very unusual for an attorney, such as Tom Mars, to invoke themselves and try to interrupt the normal review of a promotion,” said Gov. Hutchinson.
The governor calls the letter intimidating and that Mars is trying to intervene unfairly, as ASP Captain Paulette Ward is also up for the same job as Rhoads.
“There is the review of a black female trooper that’s been recommended for promotion,” said the governor.
The former state police director said now is the time to fix the problem.
“If I had received a letter like that when I had been the State Police Director, and I knew, as he must, that those allegations are true and provable — I would resign,” said Mars. “I think that would be the right thing for him to do.”
The governor said Mars only has an agenda that he is promoting.
“He has served previously as Director of the State Police and left with surrounding controversy, and here he is trying to create the same controversy that he left under,” said Gov. Hutchinson.
We reached out to the Arkansas State Police Commission but have not heard back.
Colonel Bryant released the following statement:
“There are more than 500 Arkansas State Troopers. But only one is held directly accountable for the operation of the Arkansas State Police, the department’s director, appointed by the governor. I’m humbled and grateful by Governor Hutchinson’s statement of both praise and support. His words have fortified my personal devotion to integrity and fairness that have been the benchmarks of my law enforcement career during the past 46 years. Nothing will change that. I intend to move forward with the duties as state police director, but always mindful of the responsibility to protect the trust and expectations of the citizens while serving at the pleasure of the governor.”