Capt. Tarik Khatib has worked in virtually every division of the Lawrence Police Department, from patrol officer to investigator to supervisor.
And now the 18-year veteran will try out the department’s top post. City Manager David Corliss on Tuesday announced that Khatib, as of Sept. 1, will be interim police chief when longtime chief Ron Olin retires.
“I’m humbled by the opportunity to do that,” said Khatib, who currently leads the department’s community services division. “And I will continue to be a good steward and make sure the continuity of leadership continues until a selection is made.”
Corliss said he selected Khatib after he met with all six of Olin’s captains to gauge their interest in serving as interim chief. He also cited Khatib’s familiarity with many facets of the department.
“One of the characteristics you always look for in a department head is integrity, honesty and great community skills. Capt. Khatib has those,” Corliss said. “I’m sure that he’s going to be able to demonstrate that to not only myself but to the community in the coming weeks and months.”
Khatib, 43, was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived there until moving to Lake Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb, with his parents when he was 11.
He came to Lawrence to attend Kansas University — his mother’s alma mater — and earned a sociology degree in 1991 just before he was hired as a Lawrence police officer.
“I fell in love with the Lawrence community,” Khatib said. “When I was in school I would pursue community involvement in Lawrence, and I view police work as community involvement.”
He recently trained in leadership, executive development and management of organizations at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. Khatib said he and other officers have learned much from Olin, who started as an officer in 1971 before becoming chief.
“He’s got a saying of always thinking about the community, the department and the officers when you consider matters,” Khatib said.
He said Tuesday that he was interested in being the department’s permanent chief as well.
Corliss said he expects several internal candidates to do well in the selection process, but outside candidates will also be in the mix in the national search.
“The community expects great things from our police department. They expect safety and professionalism. I want to ensure that we find the best candidate,” Corliss said. “I just don’t want to limit it to internal candidates or candidates who might just know about Lawrence regionally, but I would expect interest from across the nation.”
He plans to meet with a number of community members and employees within the department for input. The conversation will include challenges the public wants the department to take on in the future.
“It doesn’t necessarily require somebody from the outside to do that,” Corliss said. “An internal candidate might very well be able to make those changes and to make those improvements, but the main thing we want a new police chief to do is build on the success of Ron Olin’s leadership of the department.”
Corliss hopes to have the new permanent chief in place before the end of the year.
In addition to Khatib, Olin has five other captains. Stephen Zarnowiec, Dan Ward and Paul Fellers are the current patrol captains. Ward recently served a stint in charge of the investigations division.
Mike Pattrick is the current investigations captain. Ray Urbanek, also a former patrol captain, leads the information technology division.