Overland Park & Leawood

Overland Park police chief announces retirement to head Shawnee Mission school security

Updated: 2014-01-15T06:24:27Z

By ROBERT A. CRONKLETON

The Kansas City Star

Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said Tuesday he will retire in April to become director of safety and security for the Shawnee Mission School District.

After more than 40 years in the department, Douglass credits his colleagues for the many accomplishments throughout his tenure.

“The thing I’m most proud about is to have been in association with and part of a great many initiatives of this department,” Douglass said. “The officers of this department are some of the finest people I’ve ever known.”

Douglass, who has three grandchildren in the Shawnee Mission School District, said he is looking forward to a new challenge.

“There’s no greater asset than our children,” Douglass said. “The opportunity to participate in such a program seemed like a worthwhile project.”

Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said Douglass, through his high-quality leadership and public safety initiatives, helped make Overland Park a first-class city.

“It is great for us that he will continue to be working with the largest school district in our town and improving the safety in our community,” Gerlach said. “It makes us glad that he’ll still be around and helping the city of Overland Park and other cities by helping keep the schools safe.”

Douglass will retire April 18 and expects to start work at the district May 1. The Shawnee Mission school board expects to vote on his appointment Jan. 27.

Douglass joined the department in February 1973 as a patrol officer. During nearly 41 years with the agency, he worked in every division of the department. He has been a detective, a sergeant and a member and commander of the tactical team.

Douglass served as acting police chief in December 1995 and was appointed to chief in March 1996.

Douglass has been credited with implementing information-based policing and crime-fighting strategies that have been copied nationwide, as well as a program to combat racial profiling in municipal law enforcement agencies.

Douglass also has led the In Defense of Our Schools initiative, a task force focused on school safety and security issues that worked closely with area districts.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Jim Hinson said Douglass is “absolutely the right” person for the district because of his experience and training.

“He has a tremendous amount of knowledge of the community here as well as our schools,” Hinson said.

In the newly created position, Douglass will oversee the district’s security officers and school resource officers as well as the safety and security protocols for the entire district.

Henry E. Lyons, president of the Olathe Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said he has called Douglass for advice on many issues.

“He is an excellent police chief and person, and well respected in the law enforcement community,” Lyons said. “If something is happening in Johnson County … he can get everybody together and talk about any issue.”

The Olathe Branch also recognized Douglass for his work in diversity.

“I’m still going to be calling him for advice,” Lyons said. “No matter where he’s at. That’s how much I value his advice.”

The Star’s Melissa Schupmann contributed to this report.

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