Baldwin City hires Lawrence Police Department veteran as its new police chief
photo by: Elvyn Jones
The Baldwin City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to hire Michael Pattrick, a veteran of the Lawrence Police Department, as its new chief of police.
Pattrick, 53, has served as interim police chief the last two months following the abrupt resignation of Baldwin City Police Chief Greg Neis.
“I toyed with the idea when I retired from the Lawrence Police Department that if I was to go on to be a police chief somewhere, it would be in Baldwin City,” he said. “It’s my hometown. I’ve lived here 23 years, and it’s where my wife, Lisa, and I raised our three children.”
Pattrick was appointed interim chief when Neis resigned Sept. 19. Neis had previously said that he would retire in the spring of 2019. The retirement announcement came after the Kansas Bureau of Investigation opened an investigation Sept. 6 into alleged criminal activity in the Baldwin City Police Department. Pattrick said Wednesday that investigation was ongoing.
Baldwin City Mayor Casey Simoneau said Pattrick was selected after a nationwide search that attracted 47 applications. Pattrick and two other candidates were interviewed for the job.
“As a community, we are fortunate to have someone like Michael able to serve in this position,” he said. “He’s lived here for more than 20 years. He has a wealth of experience and has strong relationships with those in the area law enforcement community.”
Pattrick retired in March 2017 after 28 years with the Lawrence Police Department, the last 11 of those as a captain in the department’s investigations division.
“I started in patrol and worked my way up through the ranks,” he said.
He actually first worked for LPD as an intern while attending the University of Kansas and taking social science classes, Pattrick said. It was an introduction to a career that fit his character and personality.
“I’ve always had a strong sense of right and wrong,” he said. “I enjoy interacting with people, and this job is all about people. I do like helping others. You see people having their worst days, and you can do something to make them somewhat better.”
Pattrick said he was pleased with the staff he inherited. He will supervise nine full-time law enforcement officers, three part-time officers and two civilian employees when the department is fully staffed. He is hiring now with the goal of having at least two officers on duty at all times, he said.
The department is making plans to move from its cramped downtown headquarters to a new police station at First Street and U.S. Highway 56. Simoneau said the Baldwin City Council has issued $1 million in bonds to finance the purchase and renovation of a former restaurant into a police station.
His officers are working with Lawrence architect Jay Zimmerschied on the design for the interior of the building, Pattrick said.
The pace of police work in Baldwin City is a bit different from what Pattrick experienced in Lawrence. The most frequent criminal activity in the community is petty property theft from unlocked vehicles or garages, although there was a recent home-invasion incident that led to the arrests of four suspects, Pattrick said. And like every community, Baldwin City has its share of illegal drug activity, he said.
Because of the presence of Baker University, the Baldwin City department is called on to help with more large events than most communities its size, Pattrick said. It relies on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol to help with those events, he said.
“We have excellent relationships with both those agencies,” he said.