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Coming out of retirement: Bill Cochran takes on a new type of Chief role

From Chief of Police to Chief of Staff, Cochran didn’t wait long to find something else to do.
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 9:21 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -Topeka City Manager Brent Trout said former Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran’s experience meets the needs of the moment.

“We have a lot going on right now and time is of the essence Chief Cochran is someone that I’ve been able to watch I understand his leadership skills and abilities,” Trout said Wednesday.

“In addition to having great skills and abilities as a leader and manager managing the largest department that the city has, I also saw some of his abilities to manage work with the community and things he has brought to the city in that regard.”

Trout said he began considering creating the Chief of Staff position towards the end of last year and reached out to Cochran at the beginning of the month.

“As we’ve gone through and worked through various situations it was identified that we need to have some assistance back in my office to be able to manage some of the projects we have for the city,” he said.

“[Cochran] was excited he was looking at continuing to do something he wasn’t he was retiring from police work that was what he was doing and then we get in the process of figuring out what might be the future for him.”

While Cochran is best known for his 30+ years of work at the Topeka Police Department, Trout said he will mostly be distanced from his old stomping grounds.

“There will be very little that he’ll have to do with the police department his duties me from time to time may be involved over there but it will be very little that was made very clear in the discussions that I had with him when he took his job,” he said.

Cochran himself said he is ready for something new.

“It sounds both challenging and exciting at the same time, [Trout and I] have some commonalities of both being in the military and understanding what the Chief of Staff does and all that so when he asked me to do that, it sounded kind of exciting,” Cochran said Wednesday.

“I just appreciate all the partnerships the community gave me when I was Chief of Police and I’m excited I hope a lot of those partnerships and relationships will continue and get stronger and better and that we can help facilitate and improve the quality of life for everyone in the city of Topeka in the coming years.”

Cochran said he believes his Topeka roots will help him succeed in the job.

“Basically, I lived here all my life and I understand the different nuances of things here in the city,” he said.

“I learned a lot of that being Chief of Police but I also think I learned a lot through my relationships with different people in our community.”

Trout said for now, Cochran’s primary duties as Chief of Staff will be heading the transition of ownership of the Topeka Zoo from the city to Friends of the Zoo and there will be plenty more tasks.

“Some of those types of special projects he’ll be a part of and then simple things we could have issues with citizens come up we could have different maybe items that we’re looking at changing in the ordinances and maybe he’ll help with the process that goes along with it,” Trout said.

“I have a pretty long to-do list and the hope is that some of those things instead of being on that list as long he’ll take them and get them accomplished.”

Trout said City Council members and city employees are looking forward to seeing a familiar face.

“[They’ve been] very, very supportive from the governing body to his hiring they feel like they know him as somebody they know they feel they know his work ethic and they’re excited that I selected him to be on the team because they know he’ll work hard and work towards their goals and priorities as well in order to make us successful,” Trout said.

“He’ll be Chief of staff he’ll still be Chief Cochran to a certain extent is someone we all know his character we know his love for this city and he wants us to be successful.”

Cochran’s first day is February 22, with an annual salary of $125,000.

The city said it took required legal steps to post the open position Trout said he was not aware of any other applicants, but always had Cochran in mind.

Previous story published at 10:19 am

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - After less than two months of retirement, Topeka’s former Chief of Police has accepted a new role in public service.

Topeka City Manager Brent Trout announced at Tuesday night’s city council meeting that Bill Cochran will become his acting Chief of Staff starting February 22, 2021.

Trout said this was a newly created position, and Cochran’s education, experience, and strong community ties made him a perfect fit.

“Today I am excited to announce that Bill Cochran has accepted my offer to return to the City of Topeka in a new role as my Chief of Staff. Bill Cochran is someone that we all know as a dedicated public servant to the City of Topeka with 34 years of service in the Police Department,” said City Manager Brent Trout. “Bill is a well-qualified person to fulfill this newly created position in our government structure. In addition to his education and experience, Bill Cochran has strong community ties that will help facilitate the duties of his new role.”

Cochran retired after spending his entire career in law enforcement with the Topeka Police Department at the end of 2020.

“I am very excited to continue my career in public service as the Chief of Staff to City Manager Trout. I am looking forward to starting this new phase of my career and continuing to serve the citizens of Topeka in my new role,” said Cochran.

City officials say Cochran will make $125,000 per year.

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