Topekans share what they want in a new police chief

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:20 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - With Chief Bill Cochran retiring soon, the city of Topeka is beginning the search for a new leader of the police department.

“Police chief Cochran has been a great servant of our community for quite awhile," said Topekan Evan Robinson.

Clint Applehanz agreed saying, ”He seems to have a very good spirit and care about Topeka."

City manager, Brent Trout, announced the retirement of Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“His knowledge of the community over time has been very, very helpful for me and so it is disappointing to see that he’s leaving in a sense that I’m losing a very qualified individual," he said.

As the city searches for a replacement, Trout told 13 NEWS he’d prefer to look within the department.

“Oftentimes in our police department that’s the best way," he continued saying, “They know the town, they know the people in the community and so that’s usually my preference.”

Robinson said he wouldn’t mind the city looking elsewhere.

”It’s a fault sometimes of organizations to only search internally because a culture that needs change, sometimes needs people from the outside to come in and make change."

Some also said they want the city to consider hiring a minority or a woman for the position.

Resident Janette Navarro said, “It can be great if it’s a minority, not because I identify with a minority, but because it’s going to be open to everybody else to show that the city is growing.”

Mostly, residents said they want a police chief that will be involved in the community.

“I remember participating in one of the local marches downtown after George Floyd’s death and I look to my left and there was police chief Cochran and to me that just showed a lot of respect," said Robinson, "I would say we need someone like that. We need a servant. We need someone who is willing to stand up against things that need to be changed.”

Chief Cochran will retire January 1st, 2021. Trout said the city plans to find an interim chief right now because they don’t want to rush the process.

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