Olathe Police Chief Steven Menke, head of department since 2008, announces retirement

Olathe Police Chief Steven R. Menke has announced he plans to retire on April 1
Olathe Police Chief Steven R. Menke has announced he plans to retire on April 1 Olathe Police Department

Olathe Police Chief Steven R. Menke announced Tuesday he plans to retire April 1 after more than 31 years in law enforcement.

Menke joined the Police Department in 1988 and has worked in a variety of assignments that included communications officer, patrol officer, field training officer and narcotics detective. He also led various divisions within the Police Department before being named police chief in 2008.

Menke replaced Janet Thiessen, who was the city’s first female police chief. Thiessen served as chief for six years and resigned when she became police chief in Tracy, Calif.

Menke, who took over a 220-person department, credited the staff and officers for the success the Police Department has realized during his tenure.

“There are not better officers and staff in the nation than in the Olathe Police Department,” Menke said in a written statement. “They truly care about our community and every person in it, and I’m leaving a great police department well-positioned for the next phase of growth and exceptional performance.”

Olathe City Manager Michael Wilkes described Menke as an exceptional leader who cared about the community that he served.

“Chief Menke has been a steady and proven leader who has led the Olathe Police Department to a performance level rarely seen,” Wilkes said in a statement. “He is leaving an exceptional legacy, and his high standards and unquestionable integrity are evident in every aspect of the department.”

Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland also praised Menke.

“Olathe is a safer city because of Chief Menke,” Copeland said in a written statement. “After rising through the ranks, he brought stability, vision and steadfast leadership to our proud police department as Chief.”

Glenn E. Rice covers crime, courts and breaking news for The Kansas City Star, where he’s worked since 1988. Rice is a Kansas City native and a graduate of the University of Central Missouri.