Lawrence’s new police chief, Rich Lockhart, sworn in

photo by: Contributed

Rich Lockhart is sworn in as Lawrence's police chief during a ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, at the Lawrence police headquarters.

The newest leader of the Lawrence Police Department officially put on his badge on Tuesday.

The City of Lawrence swore in Rich Lockhart, 53, as the chief during a ceremony with his family. He took over a department that had been led by interim leaders for nearly two years after the former chief, Gregory Burns Jr., stepped down.

Lockhart’s wife, Laura, placed his badge on his uniform for him. He was also joined by his son, daughter and mother-in-law at the police headquarters.

After being sworn in, Lockhart said that he was excited to be in Lawrence and to get to work. However, he may still need to get used to his new surroundings, as he accidentally said the name of his former home: Warrensburg, Missouri.

“I want to help the Lawrence Police Department, not the Warrensburg Police Department,” Lockhart said with a laugh. “Old habits are hard to break. … That’s my first faux pas.”

photo by: Contributed

Lawrence Police Chief Rich Lockhart

As the Journal-World reported, Lockhart joins LPD after spending about five years as the chief of police in Warrensburg. Prior to that, he served as a police officer in Kansas City, Mo., for 26 years. Lockhart’s salary with LPD will be $156,000.

Prior to his appointment, Lockhart visited Lawrence in November for a public meet-and-greet at the Lawrence Public Library. Discussing some of his connections to Lawrence, he said he often visited Lawrence when he worked in Kansas City to “get out of the city.” He said he also sometimes did coursework in Lawrence when he was attending the University of Kansas Edwards Campus to earn his master’s degree in public administration.

Additionally, his wife, Laura, attended KU and they have a son who is a freshman at the university and plays in the band, which has also regularly brought them back to town. Lockhart previously said he was also attracted to the Lawrence position because of the size of the police department, which is larger than his current police department but smaller than his previous employer in Kansas City.

Lockhart said that he would be moving to Lawrence this month and that his wife and two kids who are still in high school would be joining him once the school year ends in May.

Meanwhile, Lockhart leaves behind a police department in western Missouri where he helped increase the total number of female officers in Warrensburg to nine, or about a third of the force. He previously told the Journal-World that improving the diversity of the police force was important and that he believed the department should work to reflect the community it serves.

He also said building relationships with the department’s officers and the community was important to him and he hoped to do that in Lawrence. Part of the way he did that in Warrensburg was taking calls himself, he said.

“Every now and then I’ll go out and take a call, and sometimes things just happen right in front of you,” he told the Journal-World during an interview in Warrensburg. “I really made it a point to get out and meet people, talk to people and answer questions. A lot of times people just have questions, and that gives you a chance to answer those questions in a positive interaction.”

Related coverage:

• Jan. 8, 2022 — Lawrence’s new police chief is coming from a small town, but he’s not naive about the differences of a bigger city

• Dec. 3, 2021 — Rich Lockhart hired as Lawrence’s new police chief; he’ll start in January

• Nov. 18, 2021 — At meet-and-greet, Lawrence police chief candidate says he has several connections to town, feels well-suited for job

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