Finalists to become the Lawrence’s next police chief are the city’s interim police chief and police administrators from Overland Park, Olathe, Wichita and Lincoln, Neb.
“The candidates we’ve selected for the final round of interviews offer exceptional leadership, numerous years of professional expertise in law enforcement, and each would bring an excellent repertoire of skills and personal experience to Lawrence as the next chief of police,” said City Manager David Corliss. “The pool of candidates vying for this position is a testament to both the reputation of our community and our police department.”
These are the five candidates:
• Brian Jackson, a captain with the Lincoln, Neb., Police Department.
• Mark Kessler, a deputy chief in Overland Park.
• Tarik Khatib, Lawrence’s interim police chief.
• Clark Morrow, an Olathe police captain.
• Tom Stolz, a deputy chief in Wichita.
An open house for the public to meet the five candidates will be 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Carnegie Building, 200 W. Ninth St.
Corliss has been searching for a police chief since longtime chief Ron Olin retired from the city in September and became director of security and internal controls at Kansas Athletics Inc.
The city advertised nationally for the position and heard from 41 applicants from eight states, Corliss said, before he narrowed the list to five.
• Khatib, 43, a captain who has worked in the department for more than 18 years, became the interim chief on Sept. 1.
“I’m pleased to have made it this far,” Khatib said. “I appreciate the confidence of the people that have allowed me to get this far and will continue to try to do my best in the process.”
Before beginning his law enforcement career in Lawrence, Khatib, originally from Lake Forest, Ill., graduated from Kansas University in 1991 with a sociology degree. He has worked in many divisions of the department, including a stint leading a joint city and county drug task force.
• Morrow, 48, is the current patrol division captain for the Olathe Police Department. He has worked for the Olathe department for 22 years, attended Kansas State University for three years and later earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill.
“Lawrence is a great city. I find it to be an intriguing position,” Morrow said. “This is a chance for me and the other candidates to get to know the city and department better and see if any of us are a good fit and if the department is a good fit for us.”
He was offered the job as Emporia police chief in 2007 and briefly accepted it, but according to news reports later changed his mind because his family could not support the decision to make the move to Emporia.
• Stolz, 52, is the head of Wichita’s investigations division and has served as a deputy police chief for 10 years in his 29-year stint there. He said his experience in Wichita has allowed him to deal with high-profile cases in the state’s largest city and also reach out to community members there.
“I feel like Lawrence has that same philosophy and same flavor and that the police department works well with the community,” said Stolz, who earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Newman University in Wichita and has a master’s in administration of justice from Wichita State University.
He has some familiarity with Lawrence because two of his sons earned degrees at KU.
• Jackson, 48, as a captain in Lincoln has commanded for five years a drug enforcement task force in the area that includes several agencies. He’s been a Lincoln police officer since 1987 and started his career with the Hastings, Neb., department.
He sees his experience in working on crime issues in Lincoln as a strength because of the many similarities between Lawrence and Nebraska’s capital. Both cities are home to major state universities.
“The values are very similar, which makes me very comfortable in looking at Lawrence,” Jackson said.
He has earned two degrees in public administration — an undergraduate one from Doane College in Lincoln and a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska.
• Kessler, 54, has been a deputy police chief in Overland Park since 2002. He currently commands the support services bureau and has worked in many facets in his 32 years with the department, including as a detective.
“I’m just looking forward to the process,” he said.
He has degrees from Washburn University and the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Mo.
All five candidates have experience with prestigious police leadership programs. Khatib, Morrow, Jackson and Kessler have all graduated from the leadership training program at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. Stolz and Kessler are graduates of the Senior Management Institute for Police.
The city’s job description listed the chief’s salary at more than $105,000, depending upon experience.
At the Feb. 10 open house, Corliss said, members of the public are encouraged to talk to each candidate one-on-one. He said he would accept confidential e-mail feedback on candidates after the event, provided that the messages include the community member’s name and contact information.
The candidates will tour Lawrence that day and conduct interviews with committees made up of members of the public, city employees and other officials. Corliss, who has authority to make the selection, said he expected to decide in February.
“The chief of police position is one that is deeply connected to the community,” Corliss said, “and I want the citizens of Lawrence to have an opportunity to meet the candidates, thank them for their interest in our community, and open a dialogue with them about the challenges and opportunities we face.”