Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council names its leader

A former captain in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has been named coordinator of the 5-month-old Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Robert Bieniecki was introduced Tuesday at a meeting of the coordinating council. He will start his duties Monday in the position that pays him $79,000 annually. Among the duties expected of the coordinator are securing grants, coordinating and analyzing data, improving cooperation and information sharing among stakeholders, and establishing clear goals and objectives.

Douglas County Commissioner Mike Gaughan, who serves as chairman of the coordinating council, said Bieniecki stood out in the interview process.

Robert Bieniecki

“He has a true passion for improving our justice system and making it work for our community,” he said.

Bieniecki said the position was an opportunity to continue the kind of work he did as a correctional captain in the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office — identifying appropriate alternatives to incarceration. At Johnson County, he was responsible for the office’s re-entry program, Second Chance Act grant program, inmate classifications, trauma-informed care and special management housing for those with mental illness.

“My interest is in doing meaningful work,” Bieniecki said Monday. “When I left the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, I knew I would work again. When I saw the advertisement for this position, I thought it was just what I was looking for.”

The 8-year-old Johnson County Criminal Justice Advisory Council has put in place a number of successful programs, Bieniecki said. Those include a co-responder program, in which mental health care professionals respond to select calls with law enforcement; a bond supervision program; crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers; and mental health and veterans specialty courts.

A Tonganoxie resident, Bieniecki served 10 years in the U.S. Navy and 12 in the Naval Reserve. He was crew chief of the Navy Blue Angels maintenance team for three years during his active duty enlistment. He has a bachelor’s degree in general studies with a concentration in law enforcement from Fort Hays State University and is a 2012 graduate of the FBI National Academy.

His hiring means he will attend the coordinating council’s retreat, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Douglas County Public Works Building.

Fellow Douglas County Commissioners Jim Flory and Nancy Thellman joined Gaughan at Tuesday’s coordinating council meeting.

“It was a healthy conversation,” Gaughan said. “The council got to hear directly from the County Commission what their goals and charge of the coordinating council were.”