TPD Chief Finalists Talk Community

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Community is a priority for both men vying to become the city of Topeka's next police chief.

Dozens of people turned out Thursday evening at a public reception at the city's Holliday Building where they could meet Tony Kirk and James Brown. Several representatives of the local law enforcement community joined Mayor Larry Wolgast, Topeka City Council members, city workers and community members at the informal gathering.

Brown is the assistant police chief in Kansas City, Kansas, where he has worked his way up the ranks in 23-year career. He also serves as senior command chief for the Kansas Air National Guard.

Kirk is a 28-year veteran of the Topeka Police Department, where he has commanded every division. He was deputy chief under Ron Miller and was named interim chief following Miller's departure. Kirk also is a Marine Corps veteran and currently serving in the Kansas Army National Guard.

Kirk says a priority for him if selected as chief is to continue TPD's partnership with the community in educating them in their role in keeping their neighborhoods safe. Kirk says he is entrenched in the community, but also believes he would bring a different perspective and a "fresh set of eyes" to leading the department. He says he has ideas for moving the community forward from both the financial and crime reduction standpoints.

Brown said his different perspective comes from his experience outside the city of Topeka. He says he believes organizations can often benefit from someone who brings in different ways of doing business. In considering the position, he says he contacted a handful of community leaders to hear their perspectives on the challenges facing the city. He says he could focus on using community policing and intelligence-led policing, taking information and data to formulate and implement strategies.

City officials say 25 people applied for the position. Four were interviewed before Brown and Kirk were chosen finalists. City Manager Jim Colson said he hopes to make his decision within two weeks.

Former Police Chief Ron Miller is awaiting confirmation as the new U.S. Marshal for Kansas. A public reception to honor his eight years of service is from noon to 3 pm Friday, Aug. 8, at the Kansas Expocentre's Heritage Hall.