KCPD promotes from within, 29-year veteran Major Rick Smith selected as next chief

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A 29-year veteran of the Kansas City Police force is getting a big promotion.  Major Rick Smith currently heads up Central Patrol Division.  In August, he will become chief.

“We are proud to announce that the board selected Major Rick Smith to be the next Chief of Police of Kansas City, Missouri,” said Leland Shurin, Kansas City Police Board president.

Just from the sheer amount of applause in the room after the announcement was made, it seems clear Major Smith is well respected in the department.  With a spike in violent crime, including 85 homicides so far in 2017, he’s got a big "to-do list" right away.

"It's a dream to sit in this chair and look at this department and see where we can move forward and to accomplish things that need to be accomplished in this city to make this city great.  And I'm truly humbled to be here," said Major Smith.

Major Smith isn't new to KCPD, but he is taking on a big new role.  After getting applications from 42 candidates, intensive interviews with the top 10, and three public forums, including one with the top two finalists Thursday, Smith came out on top.  He's now set to become Kansas City's 45th chief of police.

"I want to set employees up for success.  I want to work on the reduction of crime and neighborhood issues, and I want to build effective partnerships to make this department more efficient and effective," said Major Smith.

The Fraternal Order of Police says Smith was its pick from the start, and hope he fulfills his pledge to put more officers on patrol in an effort to crack down on crime.

"I truly believe that the new chief is going to spend an incredible amount of time looking at this department and retooling it, putting men and women back on the streets where we belong," said Brad Lemon, Kansas City FOP Lodge #399 president.

The police board split the vote on making Major Smith the new chief, 3-2.  Mayor Sly James voted for the other candidate, Chief Keith Humphrey of Oklahoma. The thought was if they hired him, they'd have the best of both worlds, keeping Major Smith on staff and getting new leadership at the top.  But he insists moving forward, there is no bad blood.

"This is a vote that we made with good conscience and stand 100 percent behind this chief as he goes forward and we're going to give him everything we can to make sure he's successful," said Mayor James.

The police board president was the other vote against Major Smith, but he also insists there is no animosity.

Major Smith officially becomes chief August 15th, and says he is ready to get to work.