MR. GARY CRAIN, MR. GARY FOSTER, MS. KATHRYN HUDDLER, MR. MATT MILLS
January 8th, 2015
Conducted by: Laura Minton
G. CRAIN: Gary Crain; captain of support services
G. FOSTER: Greg Foster; captain of police services
K. HUDDLER: Kathryn Huddler; captain of personnel services
M. MILLS: Matt Mills; captain of emergency management
L. MINTON: How long have each of you been with the University Police Department?
G. CRAIN: 36 years
G. FOSTER: 26 years
K. HUDDLER: 19
M. MILLS: 16.
L. MINTON: In your opinion, how has the police force changed in regard to the department transformation as a whole?
G. CRAIN: It evolved. It evolved from when before it was just a security operation to now one of the top notch, first class law enforcement agencies in the state of Arkansas.
L. MINTON: Does anyone else have anything to say?
G. FOSTER: Yeah, even when I started in the late ‘80s, we were still at that time closer to a security operations rather than a true police department, but like Gary said, with the environment, we’ve had to adapt and change and we are definitely a full-fledged police department at this point. There are examples of when we had to issue citations for personnel, but we didn’t even want to ask them to sign the citation because it was still kind of a gray area, and we actually changed that later on when your grandfather agreed to have people actually start signing tickets, and that’s—even in the ‘80s, it was still transforming.
L. MINTON: How was the Kimpel Hall shooting significant for not only the officers involved, but for the community?
G. CRAIN: So that was the second accident here: homicide on campus. The first intentional murder although there had been one attempted prior to that. It’s the most serious crime there is, and so it was probably a wake up call to everybody that something like that could happen, or that there are actually people out there that would come to a campus and try to do something like that.
M. MILLS: I was actually the second officer on the scene, so from an officer’s standpoint at that time, it really did shake us and help us realize—not only us, but also other agencies—that the transformation process where in the past, they would think that the University of Arkansas police couldn't handle a situation like that, whereas very quickly they realized that we could. There’s a story of one of our officers at the time was in the academy and they were all making jokes until they saw the news and there were no more jokes about the department at that time.
L. MINTON: The police force itself underwent a large transformation. Which of the many changes for police officers, including requirements, was most significant, in your opinion?
G. FOSTER: I don’t know that the requirements have ever changed. We’ve always had to be state certified, go to the police academy, established field training program. So I don’t know that the basic requirements have ever really changed that much, did they?
G. CRAIN: They did, but maybe you’re talking about the fact that Larry Slamons came here, it wasn’t really a police department, but in 75, he had done enough to actually establish a police department and start issuing firearms to police officers, so you’re not, although you could be, a policeman without a firearm, so that right there was significant enough to the police officers. There’s a story that I’ve heard that the newspapers, the Traveler back in those days—there was a lot of debate, some pushback. Some thought we don’t need guns on campus, some thought that yes we do need them for police, and there was a story in the paper, I hear, that one of the reporters went and talked to Mr. Slamons and one went to the president. At that time he was a bishop but I can’t say for sure, of course the president (it wasn’t a chancellor at that time, it was the president) said that no we weren’t doing that. So the next day, the headlines read, “President Says No, Slamons Says Yes.” And, it happened. The installation of policies and procedures, because at the beginning it was very short and it kept growing because the things that police officers get involved in, you have to have certain rules or guidance of how to deal with different situations, and what to do and how to document things, so that was significant. Then, the selection process. How do you hire police officers? Here we have an assessment center. So the assessment center was a 7 or 8 day process to select a police officer, and we hired a police officer, Gary Smith, who was computer literate, so he computerized the whole process to make it a 4 hour job, which was pretty significant. He and a couple graduate students, and Wade Mullins (?). Mullins was a psychologist or something like that, and he was doing his PhD work so that assessment center was pretty much homemade. We were getting pretty good people out of that. That was in the ‘70s, so in the ‘80s of course the Delta Delta Delta shooting, the installation of the Razorback Patrol escort service which coincided, it was not planned that way. As matter of fact, the uniforms had already been bought and the training had been done and we were already starting the next week after that happened. So the escort program made a huge impact. And then the installation of e-phones all around campus which gave people an idea that you could make a call and get to the police department pretty quickly. During the ‘90s, there was concern that the campus was dark in places, so we spent half a million dollars on lights and called it the “Walk of Lights” and so the whole campus wasn’t lit up, but certain sidewalks were lit and people were encouraged to use those paths as opposed to cutting through. Of course that was good for what it accomplished, but it didn’t last long before they had to spend the money to get the rest of the campus lit up because people didn’t want to follow a certain path when people usually take the shortest direction to where they’re going. Then the long guns—that’s recent history. We have shotguns and rifles and an emergency manager now. The department has really progressed and continues to do so.
L. MINTON: When Slamons was the Director at the UAPD, how was he instrumental in making sure that officers were treated well, and had all the resources they needed to effectively protect the campus?
G. CRAIN: The resources, he made available.
M.MILLS: And, he fought for them.
G. CRAIN: He had to. The budget was tight, it’s not like anyone was throwing money at us, that’s for sure.
M.MILLS: He did a lot of fighting in Little Rock, too.
G. CRAIN: He changed the whole way that—you may have heard this since you’re a relative, but he came here from Illinois, and when he was hired, people in Arkansas were shocked that he was making so much money. They weren’t used to that. What, who is this guy? But then what happened is that everybody started saying that if Slamons was making that, then I want it, too, so Slamons raised the whole level of pay in law enforcement. And then having, after three years, spending all that money on weapons and ammunition and training, he was able—he got all that, and again, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. The first building on Storer Ave was like an old house, a fraternity house, and now, here we are. So he, it was more of a gift than a fight for this building because the president at that time told him one day that they were building this IT building and where he comes from, IT stays open all night and they need the police close by, so we were like “yeah!”
G. FOSTER: His priority had always been equipment and training, even since I came on, and matter of fact, when he couldn’t send people to training, he brought training here by starting the Northwest Arkansas Police Institute which was instrumental in bringing a lot of training to this region when most people had to travel to Little Rock or South Arkansas for, and that was a very useful tool for anybody in Northwest Arkansas for several years.
M. MILLS: He was always focused on not only the officers’ training and safety, but also the community as a whole. Right after I started, months after I got out of the police academy, I walked into his office with a $10,000 project request to put defibrillators in all of the cars, fully expecting him to laugh at me or throw me out of the office, but he very quickly said “hey let’s do it.” He did the same thing for us with our simunition guns when we walked in with a $5,000 dollar request and said “we need this for training” and he didn’t even blink, just signed off on it and said “we’ll make it work.”
G. FOSTER: I think we’re the first agency other than an ambulance to carry AEDs.
M. MILLS: We were the first agency in the state of Arkansas to carry defibrillators in our cars, yes.
G. CRAIN: The big deal was the communications center. We knew that something had to be done, so a couple of grants were applied for and we didn’t get them, but in the end, half a million dollars worth of upgrades. Where did that money come from? A lot of people even today that a grant was involved. There was no grant. It was your grandfather and the vice chancellor of finance and administration putting that package together. New radio system, new communications center…quite a deal. There’s a big tower, at that time no one wanted cell phone towers. We have a radio tower, and if we could get a cell phone base on it, we would be very happy.
K. HUDDLER: I think he laid the groundwork for what we have, for what we see today. When I started, we had 23 police officers, and now we have 35 sworn police officers, and I think as we’re building, continue to build—I mean, the current director Steve Gahagans continues to build on what your grandfather did. It’s pretty phenomenal.
L. MINTON: How would you describe Slamons’ leadership style keeping in mind the theme of professionalism?
K. HUDDLER: I would say that when I started in ’96, you always viewed him—we called him Mr. Slamons. That tells you what kind of man he is. He was very friendly, very different than the chief we have now. He would be in here at all hours of the night and everybody respected his authority and not saying we don’t respect Steve Gahagans’ authority, but they are two very different individuals. He was very professional. He always knew when it was time for his lunch; he always knew his routine.
G. CRAIN: He was kind of mysterious. I remember being in a room with him one day and we were talking, and someone made a comment about him being very intelligent, and Slamons was like “I’m not intelligent!”
K. HUDDLER: He surrounded himself with people that were knowledgeable and were able to do their jobs.
G. CRAIN: A number of his officers that worked here and went through advanced training (FBI National Academy), it seemed like about every three years, someone was going. All through the state of Arkansas you might find one or two graduates from there, but we had three, four, five…it was really impressive.
K. HUDDLER: Now that all agencies are doing it, it’s hard to get in.
L. MINTON: So, campus enrollment numbers have since doubled, and continue to grow each year. How has the rapid growth affected the UAPD officers?
G. FOSTER: It’s increased the workload, obviously. Our growth is not staying at as quick of a pace as student growth, so we’re trying to catch up with that now. It creates more work, the statistics go up, both good and bad, so it puts us in a situation where we have to explain that a little bit. It has an impact on us.
L.MINTON: What do you believe to be the public’s perception of the UA and Fayetteville communities towards the UAPD? Have you seen a change in that perception over time?
M. MILLS: Yes, definitely. I think they view us now, and I can’t speak from when Gary was here and I was five. The perception has definitely swung more towards the professionalism of our agency and all of the accomplishments over the years. All of those have really served to bolster that impression and Mr. Slamons was a huge part of that because he was always out there in front talking about what a professional department he had, and after you say it for so long, people want to see it. They saw it. Now, we are, especially within Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Police Department, we’re equals. Yes, their community is larger as a whole, but we don’t see that, for lack of a better term, a “step-brother mentality” that we saw even when Kathryn and I started and definitely when Greg and Gary started.
L. MINTON: In your opinion, which of the many implemented programs when Slamons was the director affected police officers the most, and saw most significant for the campus?
G. CRAIN: The guns.
M. MILLS: The certifications.
K. HUDDLER: When I started, we, and I think Captain Mills was hired under a grant, he was always seeking out ways to get us more police officers. The “Cops Grant” pushed us from 23 to 37 officers within a year’s time span, so I think the huge jump for us. I know he was always fighting for raises. When I started here, I was making 19,400 dollars and it quickly jumped to 23 within a couple of years. So, those were significant things he was always fighting for, and pay’s not going to keep a person here, they may say it will--
G. CRAIN: It may drive a person away, though.
K. HUDDLER: Right, but for recruiting efforts…
G. CRAIN: That’s a good point. It’s funny, when the first—and we used to actually sign a sheet of paper telling you what you made—and I think my first one that I signed was 8900 dollars or something like that, but within six months, I was making more than I did in Malburn, which when I got that 8900, I thought, “I’m going back south.”
K. HUDDLER: Right, but as you can see, continually, the push for better things for our officers and more—just trying to see what the best fit for the organization is. Reorganizing at times…we reorganize more now than we did back then.
G. FOSTER: For me personally, though, one of the biggest programs that he implemented was the Razorback Patrol because it was my first job here at the department, and it was for several. Freddie Hall, Cameron Raven, I can’t remember who else started at Razorback Patrol. Typically you start out at Razorback Patrol, then on to dispatch, then officer rank. So it was a step program, and Razorback Patrol would get us in the door.
G. CRAIN: He also, he instructed people to do it. We had “Explorer Posts” for high school kids and college to go through one hour “Explorer Posts” alongside Attorney General Dustin McDaniels and he would’ve been governor, but that didn’t happen.
L. MINTON: Given all the anxiety that is currently bubbling about police officers, and the controversial and horrific events that have occurred recently, is there a rising concern or extra precautions that have been taken?
M. MILLS: I think, situationally, we’re telling our officers to pay attention based on everything that’s going on in the world. Officers being attacked, in New York…there was another officer killed in Paris, today, when they raided a gas station looking for the suspects from yesterday. So I think situationally, yes. I think our training has changed to be more of a tactical mindset rather than the sometimes perceived ideas of campus law enforcement which is always “tactics are the last concern and make everybody feel happy”. While we understand, and definitely there’s a community police enrolled in the campus law enforcement, there’s a definite tactic to the officers. These incidents have bolstered that, but I think we really saw the spike in that after Kimpel Hall and then after 9/11, when we saw that law enforcement specifically was being targeted, and our training methods have changed to reflect that.
G. FOSTER: I think we’re fortunate that the foundation that he built carries on to part of the community because today, I know that several of us have taken part in panel discussions, since Ferguson, Missouri, and the feelings that most people have across the country towards police officers are not the feelings that people have in our community towards our department and also the Fayetteville Police Department. They look at us not the same as they look at some of the other departments where these issues have taken place, and that’s because of the foundation that Larry Slamons put into place.
M. MILLS: And to that point, he was also very big on the diversity aspect within the department and making sure that our department reflected the community we serve. And that continues today.
GF: First female officer, first African American officer…
GC: First female investigator… The list just goes on and on.
MM: And we’re, today, in the state, one of, if not the most diverse departments.
KH: It truly reflects our—what our campus is, and probably better reflects the community today.