by Max Brantley
Col. Winford Phillips, director of the State Police, is retiring at the end of this week. Here's his letter to the governor.
Gov. Mike Beebe will pick a successor. Speculation turns first to a man with Searcy background, a retired State Police commander and former state Crime Lab director, J.R. Howard. But another candidate is the No. 2 man at the agency, Lt. Col. Tim K'Nuckles.
Said the governor:
Win Phillips was enjoying retired life in 2007 when I called to ask him to serve his beloved State one more time as Colonel of the Arkansas State Police. He admirably carried out that duty throughout my first term as governor, and he is now ready to resume that well-deserved retirement. On behalf of all of our citizens, I thank Win for his lifelong dedication to law enforcement and the State of Arkansas.
More than halfway through his eight years as governor, Beebe might, some think, also be weighing some other administrative changes.
Colonel Winford E. Phillips has announced to State Police personnel today of his intentions to resign from the position as Director of the Arkansas State Police effective Friday afternoon, April 8, 2011. A letter of resignation was delivered by Colonel Phillips to Governor Mike Beebe last Thursday (March 31st). A copy of the letter is attached to the news release.
Over the past month Colonel Phillips has considered the idea of returning home to Springdale and re-entering retirement. As the recent legislative session began to conclude and with the successful passage of Senate Bill 183 and other State Police initiatives, Colonel Phillips began to discuss with Governor Beebe his future plans.
Four years ago Governor Beebe approached Phillips about accepting the job as State Police Director. At that time, Phillips had been retired from State Police service nearly five years.
In comments to State Police staff today, Colonel Phillips said, "It has been an honor to lead the state's preeminent law enforcement agency, but the greatest joy has come from my daily association with so many of you who are among the most talented and dedicated people in the field of law enforcement."
"In my letter to Governor Beebe I've enumerated an impressive list of projects which represents four years worth of collaboration among our staff that ultimately resulted in this department being better equipped and trained to serve Arkansas residents and assist local law enforcement agencies," Phillips stated.
Speaking on behalf of the Arkansas State Police Commission, Chairman John Allison issued the following statement.
"The commission wants to express its collective gratitude to Colonel Phillips for his 42 years of commitment to the State Police and particularly the last four years during his tenure as director.
Without question, the sum total of accomplishments from his work and leadership will likely represent some of the best years in the history of the State Police.
His genuine kindness, credibility, honesty and integrity are unquestioned by the commission and Arkansas State Troopers.
It is Colonel Phillips who is credited with crafting a plan and orchestrating a campaign to insure the future financial integrity of the State Police retirement system. Act 718 of the 88th Arkansas General Assembly will live as a legacy to the dedication of Colonel Phillips to protect the retirement benefits of State Troopers already retired and State Troopers still working today."
Phillips, who will celebrate his 74th birthday later this year, was employed as an Arkansas State Police radio dispatch operator in 1964 and joined the ranks as a commissioned Trooper two years later. His assignments over the years kept him in his native northwest Arkansas as he rose through the ranks before retirement to eventually serve as captain and commander of State Police Highway Patrol, Troop L at Springdale.
During his service as an Arkansas State Trooper, Phillips devoted 26 years assigned to the Arkansas Army National Guard, 142nd Field Artillery Unit. In 1990 as a First Sergeant he was deployed to active status in the Persian Gulf War and upon his return from Kuwait was a decorated veteran of both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm.