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Topeka’s Chief of Police announced Tuesday, some still don’t agree with hiring process

Brent Trout introduces new TPD Police Chief Bryan Wheeles at a media conference Tuesday morning.
Brent Trout introduces new TPD Police Chief Bryan Wheeles at a media conference Tuesday morning.
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:05 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Topeka’s new police chief won’t have to change offices.

City manager Brent Trout announced Tuesday interim Chief Bryan Wheeles would take the job permanently, “today I’m announcing the selection of BryanWwheelus to be the next police chief for the city of Topeka.”

Bryan Wheeles’ wife pinned on the chief’s badge Tuesday morning removing the ‘interim’ that’s been part of his title since January first.

“When you’re young and you’re starting out your career at least for me anyway I didn’t think that far in the future I had a couple of things on my list that I wanted to do investigator was one of those and a chief of police was not on that early list,” Chief Wheeles said.

Wheeles started at TPD in June 1994 and has served his entire law enforcement career with the department.

Trout said Wheeles’ 15 years of field operations experience, and 10 years as an investigator made him stand out from the other three finalists.

“He’s provided a lot of experience, he’s created new programs since he’s been, even as interim, and it’s made a huge difference,” Trout explained. “In the continued effort to fight crime within the community and so I felt like he was best prepared for this responsibility.”

Trout said a majority of the governing body supported Wheeles’ selection, but community advocate Michael Bell says many people still don’t agree with the hiring process - and hope the city council will intervene.

“This is a department that is sworn to protect and serve the city of Topeka. We’ve had issues in Topeka like the issues revolving around Dominique White, the issues revolving around Tamiko Mitchell and there have been others,” Bell explained. “So how our the police department, in particular, relates to communities of color and poor communities is very important and so the people they are expected to serve should be more directly involved in their selection.”

Bell also is concerned with Trout making the hire when he’ll soon leave the city at the end of the year.

Trout said he asked the governing body about it, “they said as a majority said yes let’s move forward with the process, ‘you’re ready to go with the process they knew that it was coming and they agreed to allow me to move forward with processing.”

Wheeles says he’s ready to move forward as well, “the part that I’m excited about in my new role as the permanent police chief is to be able to go out and engage in the community and have long-term conversations about programs that we can put into place.”

Wheeles’ starting salary as chief is about $150,000.

Michael Bell says the community plans to hold a town hall meeting with the council on December 4th to discuss community input with decision-making.

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