Neis year for new police chief

September 9, 2010

Police Chief Greg Neis has just finished his first year at the helm of the Baldwin City Police Department and it’s been a good one.

It’s also been a new experience. Neis’s career in law enforcement, which began in 1977, has included stints with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and 13 years with the Eudora Police Department, the last five as sergeant.

But now he’s in charge for the first time.

“Yeah, I like it at this point in my career,” said Neis. “In the past, I’d do my shift. Now I’m the decision maker. Of course, (City Administrator) Jeff (Dingman) is the boss and has the final word, but for my people, I’m at the top.

“It’s kind of nice to use all the experience I’ve gained over the years and, hopefully, make the correct decisions.”

Neis first joined the BCPD in December 2008 as sergeant for then-Police Chief Mike McKenna. When McKenna resigned in August of 2009, Neis was named interim chief and then was elevated to the permanent position. He lives half way between Baldwin City and Eudora and likes it here.

“I enjoy being here,” he said. “I didn’t come to Baldwin City for the chief’s job. I wanted to get away from some things in the Eudora department. I wanted a job that made me happy.

“I know as many people in Baldwin City as I knew in Eudora.”

Dingman is enjoying Neis being here, too.

“Greg has been doing a great job,” said Dingman. “He is visible in the community, the morale of the department appears to be great, the focus has shifted to community-oriented policing and turnover has been dramatically slowed.

“From the time he took over as interim chief, these changes were almost immediate,” he said. “He has the right attitude for the position and has become a valuable contributor to the city’s management team overall.”

Another factor that’s made his first year in charge a good one is that there haven’t been any major incidents or problems.

“I’m just happy with the way things are going,” said Neis. “We haven’t had any major incidents and haven’t garnered any complaints.”

So, why the slow year in crime, accidents, etc., here?

“I don’t know. I really don’t,” he said. “I’m familiar with what all was going on in Baldwin City when I was in Eudora. There really haven’t been any major incidents. That’s the clientele. Unless it’s an outsider, everyone is settled in.”

But it hasn’t been completely crime free.

“We still get the rash of people getting in unlocked cars and taking things,” said Neis. “We had one a couple of weeks ago, but they just took loose change.”

As for changes, there’s really only been one big one.

“The major shift we made was we went to a 12-hour work day,” he said. “It just gets a little bit better coverage.”

Under this system, there are two officers on duty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then the shift changes with two more officers on from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

“The way the rotation works, is you work four days one week and three days the next week for an 84-hour week instead of 80,” said Neis.

He’d like to make other changes, but for now he’s implementing a “do without” mentality on purchases.

“Things are going well,” he said. “We’ve got some thing we want to do. With the state of the economy, we’re tightening our belts. We’re not making some major purchases like we thought we would. We didn’t replace a police car this year and instead used that money to upgrade our portable radios.

“We still have some upgrades to do with the car radios. I think that’s in the works,” said Neis. “We’re trying to get by on what we’ve got. Just like everyone else, we’re doing the same thing.”

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