photo by: contributed photo
General Manager Craig Owens has announced just one candidate for the final stage of the recruiting process for the new chief of the Lawrence Police Department.
Rich Lockhart is currently the police chief of the Warrensburg, Missouri Police Department, according to a press release from the city. He previously had a 26-year career with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department before retiring in 2016.
The statement said the town is holding a public meeting as an opportunity for community members to visit Lockhart on Thursday, November 18. City spokesman Porter Arneill said Lockhart is the only finalist candidate. Arneill said no job offers had yet been made and Owens wanted to hear from the community before making a final decision.
For the post, the city was the subject of a nationwide recruiting effort led by Ralph Andersen Associates, a national executive search firm. The announcement comes after much anticipation about the chief and future leadership of the police department.
In May 2020, the city announced that Lawrence Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr., the city’s first black police chief, would be stepping down just months after most members of the Police Union left. voted that they did not trust his abilities. to lead the department, as Journal-World previously reported. The precise reasons for the union’s decision or vote were never publicly disclosed, and a separation agreement between Burns and the city included a “no-denigration” agreement and a payment of $ 106,805 to Burns.
Shortly thereafter, the Lawrence City Commission called for a police service review following national and local calls for police reform and protests against police killings of blacks and others. people of color. The commission finally agreed in October 2020 to pay Citygate Associates $ 117,833 for an in-depth study of the police service, creation of a new master plan and development of a candidate profile for the next police chief. from the city. The subsequent 132-page report, which the commission received in May this year, included 60 findings and 75 recommendations. The creation of an implementation plan for the recommendations of the report is underway.
Lockhart held the rank of major in the KCPD at the time of his retirement, having worked in various assignments within the department, including human resources, patrol, special operations and research and development, the statement said. He was the spokesperson for the department for over eight years. Lockhart holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas and a bachelor’s degree in biology from Harding University. He and his wife, Laura, have seven children and his hobbies include photography and classic cars.
The meeting with Lockhart will take place on Thursday, November 18 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.