Archive for Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Baldwin City hires new police chief

December 11, 2002

The search is over. Baldwin City has a new police chief.

Monday night the Baldwin City Council unanimously chose Mike McKenna, 56, a retired Wichita police officer, as head of the local police department.

McKenna, who was one of four finalists picked by a search committee, takes over the Baldwin City Police Department position, which was left vacant after Steve Butell's resignation earlier this year.

McKenna, a native of Wichita, said he plans to start getting acquainted with the police department and the town next week, but will officially begin the job on Jan. 2.

"It'll be a new year with a new chief," McKenna said.

McKenna, and his wife Debbie, will be moving to Baldwin in the next few weeks. The couple has two adult sons, ages 20 and 24.

This is McKenna's first position as police chief, but he has 29 years of law enforcement experience behind him.

"I've been in charge of everything," he said.

McKenna, whose father, grandfather and uncle are in law enforcement, began his career as an officer in Coffeyville. After six years in Coffeyville, he moved back to Wichita where he was attending Wichita State University while working as an officer for the Wichita Police Department.

Over the next few years, he received a bachelors degree and a masters degree in criminal justice from WSU, while moving up the ranks in the police department.

During his tenure with the Wichita Police Department, McKenna was a patrol lieutenant, an administrative lieutenant, a police department spokesperson and a lieutenant in charge of a detective unit that dealt with more serious crimes.

He has also been awarded several medals, including the Medal of Valor.

He said he thought his background would play an important role as police chief.

"I think it's going to help me a great deal," he said. "I have the experience of a small town police department as well as the knowledge and skills of a big police department."

McKenna said he decided to apply for the Baldwin position because he thought it looked like a good opportunity.

"I said I think this would be a good opportunity to bring some leadership to Baldwin City and some professionalism," he said.

He believes that leadership and professionalism will better the image of the BCPD, which has suffered from various investigations, suspensions and other public relations problems in the past year.

"I want to improve the public's concept of the police department," he said. "I want to make the citizens feel confident; restore confidence in the police department."

One of the ways he said he wants to accomplish that is by working with the officers to improve their skills.

"I want to provide growth awareness and help those officers become better officers," he said.

Open communication with the public will also be necessary.

"I think it's highly important that citizens know they can contact me and come in and talk to me," he said. "Their concerns will be heard."

But McKenna said it was also important to realize that the police department couldn't solve all of the community's problems.

"It's not a one-stop-fix-it shop," he said. "But as a police administrator, you can take the community resources and bring them together to help solve community problems."

Debbie McKenna said his job is more of a way of life for him.

"I think he genuinely cares about people. He thrives on helping people," she said. "It's not his job, it's just who he is."

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