The announcement came after Colonel J.R. Howard notified Beebe of his intention to retire at the end of August. This is the second promotion for Witt in the last few months, as he was first promoted to Administrative Services Division Commander.
"Stan Witt has a wealth of law-enforcement experience, and will approach the role of Director with the thorough and even-handed manner that has earned him respect and admiration," Beebe said. "His 27 years with the ASP have made him an expert in policies, practices and procedures: knowledge that will service him well as the leader of this great agency."
Major Witt, 55, is a 27-year veteran trooper, who spent seven years in patrol and 15 in the Criminal Investigative Division along with five in the ASP administration.
He began his law-enforcement career at the age of 19 with the Walnut Ridge Police Department. He served a year as the state's youngest sheriff in Lawrence County, a position he left when he accepted a position with the state police.
In 1985, Witt joined the Arkansas State Police, and began patrolling highways in Sharp County. After a career of accomplishment and promotion, Witt is the 18th State Police Director.
During the news conference, Witt said he doesn't intend to make any quick changes.
"The first thing I'm going to do is meet with all the department commanders and do a full assessment of the department to see what the needs are for each division and to see what the priorities are," he said.
Witt explained the state police is currently testing an electronic system for writing traffic citations and he will continue to introduce new technology to his department.
Also, Witt said that 16 troopers, with 529 years of combined experience, have retired from the ASP in the last 12 months. 13 more troopers will reach retirement by the end of 2014.
Witt said restoring these positions with qualified personnel was a high priority to him.
Witt explained, after being called to the governors office to discuss the director's position, he did not make up his mind about accepting, until the night before a second meeting with the governor.
Governor Beebe said he spoke to a number of people in the organization before making a decision on a replacement for Howard.
"I did a lot of talking within the agency from the bottom to the top," Beebe said.
The new director said it took some time to become comfortable with the idea of stepping into the head role.
Long time friend and fellow Arkansas State Police Sergeant Mack Thompson, who has served with Witt since 1985, said, "I saw in him then the prospect of doing great things in the department, and I am not at all surprised that he was promoted to the position. The only regret I have is that I don't have three or four more years to work with him and see the positive changes he is going to make in the department."
Thompson, who will be retiring next year, said he and Witt have been close friends for over 30 years, since the two men were the only troopers assigned to Sharp County, back years ago. This close knit working relationship, coupled with the men's common interests made them lifelong friends. "I was the best man at his wedding, and he was the best man at mine." Thompson, who was thrilled about his friend's promotion, said.
The official transition of leadership occurred on August 31 when Witt is sworn in during a Little Rock press conference, elevating the Major's rank to Colonel.