KCK community leaders say new police chief has big shoes to fill

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After a year-long search, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department named its new leader on Tuesday: Police Chief Terry Zeigler.

After a national search, the familiar face, who has been with the department for 24 years, was chosen to lead.

Since former Kansas City, Kan., Chief Rick Armstrong retired about a year ago, Ellen Hanson, who retired as Lenexa's police chief in October 2012, agreed to serve as KCK's interim police chief while they conducted their search. She was popular among Kansas City, Kan. community leaders.

Zeigler promised to continue some of the popular policies Hanson put in place, including the policy on police pursuits.

Ellen Hanson retired as Lenexa's police chief in 2012.

Ellen Hanson retired as Lenexa's police chief in 2012.

"She would pick up the telephone and say I'm sorry about something that's happened in your community we're working on it," said Brenda Shivers, Northeast Economic Development Corp.

During her tenure, police pursuits were suspended after two deadly crashes occurred as suspects fled from officers.

"Chief Hanson suspended our pursuit policy and we revised it. They only way we chase now is for violent felonies and I forsee that policy staying in effect," said Zeigler.

She was also praised for building trust between police and the community by making herself visible at neighborhood meetings and urging officers to get out of their cars and interact with people.

"We will continue to increase the transparency of our department in order to eliminate perceived inequalities in the way we treat people throughout our community," Zeigler said as he explained some of his goals.

Community leaders hope Zeigler will make community interactions a priority.

"In this age of crisis that we are having in this country and the relations between police and community it's very important that the chief early on set a tone that he has zero tolerance of police misconduct," said Alvin Sykes, Public Safety Diversity Task Force.

Zeigler is a 24-year veteran of the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, starting his career in 1990 as a patrolman. Zeigler says he wants a department that reflects the community. One of his first orders of business will be reorganizing the department to improve efficiency and effectiveness to fight crime.

Zeigler thanked Hanson for her leadership and guidance and says he's ready to move the department forward.

The Kansas City, Kan., Police Department has a staff of more than 500 that he will lead.

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