Kansas City will hire firm to conduct national search for new police chief

Kansas City police commissioners have begun the process to hire a search firm that will help identify candidates to be the city’s next police chief.

Police Chief Darryl Forté, the first African-American to lead the department, unexpectedly announced last week that he plans to retire at the end of May. Forté later told The Star that he plans to take a law school admission test and attend law school.

The police board met Friday in a closed session to discuss options for the search.

“We have not yet picked a search firm,” police board president Leland Shurin told The Star in an email. “We are asking for proposals from prospective firms and will need to review and analyze each to determine which we believe will be best for KCPD.”

Shurin had previously said the police board would conduct a national search to identify a new police chief.

“I hope we can decide on the firm at the April 11 meeting but I do not commit that will happen then. While I’d like to move as quickly as possible, I want to be deliberative for the ultimate decision of picking the new chief,” he said.

Forté became the city’s 44th police chief nearly six years ago. He has been credited for his leadership during a period where tensions between police and African-Americans escalated last year after fatal police shooting deaths in Kansas City and other communities.

Many city and community leaders said they were surprised when Forté announced that he was stepping down.

Just recently, Forté told a monthly gathering at the McDonald’s at Interstate 70 and Prospect Avenue that he had no immediate plans to retire and there were other initiatives he wanted to see implemented.

Shurin said the police board would select one of the department’s senior officers to serve interim police chief until a permanent chief is named.

“We have able senior officers who can lead KCPD as an interim chief with the full confidence of the board and the officers,” Shurin said in the email. “So while certainly having a permanent chief is important, I am not concerned that we will be without good, experienced, knowledgeable leadership while the board goes about picking the permanent chief.”

Glenn E. Rice: 816-234-4341, @GRicekcstar