Article updated at 2:58 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3:
Rich Lockhart, currently chief of police in Warrensburg, Missouri, has accepted an employment offer with the City of Lawrence.
Lockhart was the sole candidate for chief of the Lawrence Police Department following a nationwide search, the city announced last month. He will start his new position Jan. 16.
Lockhart previously served a 26-year career with the Kansas City, Missouri police department before retiring in 2016, then took his current position in Warrensburg.
“It has been my greatest pleasure to serve as the Warrensburg Police Chief for the past five-plus years,” Lockhart said, according to the Warrensburg Star-Journal. “Making the decision to leave Warrensburg was difficult. I will miss the men and women of the Warrensburg Police Department, my colleagues with the city, and the members of this amazing community.”
Regarding his move to Lawrence, Lockhart said he’s looking forward to working with the Lawrence community and members of the police department, according to a city news release Friday.
Lockhart visited town for a meet-and-greet at the library on Nov. 18. At that event, he said that in terms of ensuring trust in the department and serving the Lawrence community equitably, the first step would be establishing relationships with the community proactively — not just interacting with the community in crisis. It would mean making sure Lawrence police officers are doing their jobs constitutionally, he said, as well as being transparent with the community about when the department does something wrong.
“It’s my philosophy; I call it ‘Mess up, ‘fess up, and move on’,” he said. “When we do something wrong, we tell you what we’ve done to correct it. Then we tell you why we’re not going to let it happen again.”
The city did not immediately respond Friday to an email asking for a copy of an employment offer or contract for Lockhart.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Rich to the City of Lawrence,” City Manager Craig Owens said in the city’s news release. “Rich brings a wealth of experience from his previous positions, and we are excited to have him join our team and help us make Lawrence a community where all people feel safe and secure.”