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KCPD Chief Rick Smith sets retirement date; interim chief announced

Joe Mabin named interim chief
KCPD Chief Rick Smith
Posted at 9:16 AM, Mar 25, 2022

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Chief Rick Smith announced his official retirement date Friday.

The chief's final day with the department will be April 22, 2022.

Deputy Chief Joe Mabin will serve as interim chief. He will not be a candidate for the permanent job.

Smith has served as chief since 2017 and served 34 years in the department in total.

"I am proud of all of the members of this department I have served with over the years who have worked tirelessly to make KCPD great. I am honored to have been their Chief since 2017 and to have served the citizens of Kansas City for more than 34 years. I started here in 1987 as a young police officer from Minnesota. I got married here, I raised a family here, and I will retire here in less than a month, as a proud Kansas Citian. My heart and soul will always be with KCPD. Thank you Kansas City and thank you KCPD," Smith said in a statement Friday.

The BOPC holds that it's long been the plan for Smith to retire and that he would at least stay through the current budget process. That budget was approved Thursday afternoon.

In November 2021, it was first announced that the chief would depart in the upcoming year. It later became clear that the departure date would be in April 2022.

KCPD has had a spotlight on it over the past two years for allegations of misconduct, handling of protests, officer-involved shootings and funding battles.

As chief, Smith has taken a lot of heat for the issues, with many community members and even local officials calling for his resignation.

Those calls started following the protests held at Mill Creek Park in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minnesota police.

Local protesters clashed with police. Some people gathered committed acts of vandalism, disobeyed police guidance or verbally attacked officers present.

In response, police deployed gas and bean bag weapons to attempt to create order.

That police response received much criticism from those present.

Smith again came under fire during the trial of former officer Eric DeValkenaere who was convicted of killing Cameron Lamb in 2019.

An audio recording of police radio traffic during the shooting captured the chief asking if the "bad guy" was dead. Some argued it was just police shop talk for the suspect, but others questioned whether Smith had been quick to label Lamb a criminal.

DeValkenaere's trial highlighted other issues of police misconduct that have been investigated during Smith's term as Chief.

A wrongful conviction suit was filed against the department following Ricky Kidd's release from prison and another suit was filed by the family of a man killed during a traffic stop.

An officer allegedly illegally looked up Mayor Quinton Lucas' personal information, another was charged with stealing and other officers were accused of brutality.

All of these incidents took place over the last two years.

The most recent issue has been police funding, with city hall hoping to take local control of the department and take power away from the state-appointed BOPC.

Also underscoring Smith's exit is the continuous violent crime rate within Kansas City that many believe should be better under control.

The city continues to record well over 150 homicides per year, with many other shootings and assaults taking place but not ending up as fatal.

The search for the next permanent chief of the department will likely be under a community microscope, with many who were not fans of Smith hoping a dramatic change in leadership could change crime statistics in Kansas City.