Lawrence police administration sees ‘major’ title change

photo by: Nick Gerik

The Lawrence Police Department's headquarters at 5100 Overland Drive is pictured Jan. 11, 2021.

At first glance, it may appear several leaders of the Lawrence Police Department recently received promotions in one fell swoop.

Six of the department’s leaders, who have been serving under the title of “captain,” recently saw their titles change to “major.” But the change isn’t really a promotion for those individuals, and the change is more semantic than anything else, as those who received the new titles are generally serving the same positions they had before the change.

Patrick Compton, a spokesman for LPD, told the Journal-World the department recently changed the title of those administrators as part of an ongoing restructuring of the department. The change did not come with any financial ramifications for the individuals or the department.

The change helps align LPD’s structure with its peer police departments in Kansas — including Topeka, Overland Park, Olathe and others — all of which use the rank of major serving as a division commander. Compton said it also leaves the door open for the department to reintroduce the position of captain, which would serve under the majors’ leadership, in the future.

“This change was designed to better reflect the structures of our partners in the region, which allows for better interagency dialogue and cooperation,” Compton said in an email. “Also, it better aligns the title with associated responsibilities, and the change allows for future growth above and below the rank of major.”

The restructuring at the police department began in August 2020, first with introduction of the position of lieutenant and then with the future positions of deputy chiefs and majors, according to a recent memo to the Lawrence City Commission. The overall restructuring also included some minor changes, such as moving the department’s school resource officers from the training division to the patrol divisions, and other similar changes, Compton said.

The change from captains to majors was put off until recently because of the amount of additional policy work that was associated with it, according to the memo. Compton said those policy changes were generally related to outlining the roles and responsibilities of the major positions. The department ultimately decided to move forward with the change earlier this year and informed the City Commission of the change in May.

Those who saw their titles change include William Cory, who leads patrol; Hayden Fowler, who leads investigations; Troy Squire, who leads professional services; Trent McKinley, who leads information services; and Anthony Brixius and Casey Cooper, who lead the office of the chief, according to the department’s organizational chart. Previously, they all were serving under the title of captain for their respective divisions.

The change will also eventually affect Interim Chief Adam Heffley, who served as a captain before taking over the chief position in April.

In the future, the department will also employ deputy chiefs, who would be leaders serving above the majors. The divisions led by majors are overseen by two bureaus — operations bureau and support bureau — which the deputy chiefs would command. However, those positions are currently unfilled, and Compton said filling them is a “future conversation.”

Meanwhile, the city is still in the process of selecting a permanent chief for the department. As the Journal-World previously reported, the City of Lawrence contracted an outside firm to help with a national search.

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