South Alumnus Named Alabama Director of Public Safety

Posted on April 3, 2023
Lance Crawford

Col. Jonathan Archer, Alabama Director of Public Safety data-lightbox='featured'
Col. Jonathan Archer, who was named Alabama Director of Public Safety, earned both his bachelor's degree in criminal justice and Master of Public Administration from the University of South Alabama.

Col. Jonathan Archer said a call to serve led him to the University of South Alabama. The mentorship of a faculty member laid the foundation for a career in police administration.

Last month, Archer reached the highest levels in state policing when he was named Alabama Director of Public Safety.

“Throughout his years with ALEA,” said Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Hal Taylor, “Col. Archer has proven his unwavering commitment and dedication to public service, not only for this agency but for all Alabamians. Based upon his proven work ethic and successful track record, I am extremely confident in his leadership abilities and his vision for the department.”

The Department of Public Safety is comprised of nearly 1,000 personnel with divisions including Driver License, Highway Patrol and Marine Patrol, along with a training center.

“When I enrolled at the University of South Alabama, I originally thought my career path would be directed towards the juvenile justice or corrections path,” he said. “However, once I completed my core classes and moved into my major classes, I became more interested in the world of policing.”

Archer worked 40-hour weeks while attending the University, taking classes at night and on Saturdays, when possible. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2000 and credits the support of South’s faculty at that time for helping him finish.

“Dr. Timothy O’Shea had a huge impact on my career, as he was always welcoming to provide his insight from not only an academic point of view, but as well from their practical experience,” Archer said. “He would not accept a substandard response and pushed me to be a better student.”

O'Shea convinced Archer to pursue his Master of Public Administration, which he completed in 2002. He is also a graduate of the FBI's National Academy. 

Archer’s career in law enforcement began in 2005, when he joined the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Police Division and was assigned to the Baldwin County/Orange Beach Search and Rescue Unit. 

At the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Archer has served in a variety of capacities including Marine Patrol training coordinator, Law Enforcement Special Response Unit commander, and commander of both the central and southern districts of the Marine Patrol Division.

Archer also previously served as chief of the Driver License Division, where he led his staff through the demanding challenges of COVID-19 to continuously provide public services and safely serve a record number of citizens via email, telephone and online. 

In 2022, Archer led the division through upgrades in technology and driver license processes to replace a system that had been in place for nearly two decades.

In nearly 20 years in law enforcement, Archer continues to finish a charge he was given when he completed his master’s degree.  

“Dr. O’Shea summed it up to me,” Archer explained. “He said I had half the puzzle solved. Now go out and get the experience, and no one can stop you.”

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