41 years of service coming to an end for OP Police Chief

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- His uniform hangs on the back of his door, embellished with just some of the awards and honors he's earned after 41 years of service to the Overland Park community.

There comes a point in time when you know it's time for someone else to do it.
Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass will put that uniform on for the last time Thursday, his retirement from the force in a bitter-sweet tone.

"Unfortunately what will weigh on me the most is this weekend," Chief Douglass said of Sunday's shooting at the Jewish Community Center and at Village Shalom that left three people dead and a 73-year-old man charged with capital murder.

"We've worked a long time with the Jewish campus and we have tried to fend off every possible threat. And time after time after time I met with the people there and told them that we would do our very best to keep things from happening and it's really personally sad for me that we can stop this. I mean we had no way of knowing. It came out of the blue. If we had even an inkling we would have tried. But none the less it feels personal to me," he said.

A shooting the entire community says was personal, but one that doesn't change the legacy Chief Douglass leaves behind.

"Sunday afternoon evil walked among us and he had an agenda. His agenda was hate and fear and divisiveness and what he prompted was love and courage and unity," Douglass said.

He began his career with the OPPD in 1973 as a patrol officer, working his way to detective, sergeant, member and commander of the Emergency Response Team, SWAT, lieutenant, major and assistant police chief before being named Chief of Police in 1996.

He's helped solve several cases that made national news, most recently the kidnapping and murder of teenager Kelsey Smith in 2007 and now the hate crime committed on Sunday.

"It's meant a tremendous amount to me, it's been a tremendous opportunity and I am very grateful to have had that opportunity and to have been here this long," he said.

Now he leaves Overland Park nationally recognized as one of the safest communities in the country and hoping people remember him in just one light.

"You know I hope that they think that I did my best and whether they agreed with me or disagreed with me, they felt like they were treated at least fairly," he said.

Chief Douglass is retiring from the police force, but he's not done working just yet.
On May 1st, he starts his new job, overseeing security at the Shawnee Mission School District.

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