For the first time in nearly 122 years, the city of Lawrence has an African-American police chief.
Gregory Burns Jr., currently assistant police chief of the Louisville, Ky., Metro Police Department, was chosen from among four finalists.
Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus described Burns as a community-oriented police commander.
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“He is a team player and a problem solver,” Markus said in a statement released Wednesday.
Burns said he was humbled by the selection.
“I look forward to working with the citizens and the men and women of the Police Department to make Lawrence a better place to live, work, play and learn,” he said.
Burns will begin work Oct. 2. He will replace Lawrence Police Capt. Anthony Brixius, the city’s interim police chief.
Brixius stepped in for longtime Chief Tarik Khatib in June. Khatib had announced his plans last year to step down this summer.
According to Lawrence Police Officer Drew Fennelly, Burns is the first African-American police chief in Lawrence since Samuel Jeans served as City Marshal during the mid-1890s.
“We do not have the exact dates that he served, though we believe it was four to five years, and he began as marshal in either 1894 or 1895,” Fennelly said.
Burns has been in law enforcement since 1993. He commands the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Support Bureau, which includes four divisions: major crimes, narcotics, community services and special operations.
Burns, who is originally from Louisville, is a four-year veteran of the United States Air Force. He earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Bethel University.
The police chief oversees an operating budget of $23.4 million, 150 officers and 30 civilian staff members.