KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Following a months-long process, the Kansas City, Missouri, Board of Police Commissioners has named Acting Deputy Chief Stacey Graves as the city's next chief of police.
Commissioners announced the selection Thursday morning.
Lots of handshakes and hugs from people she has worked with from her start as a records clerk to her most recent position as acting Deputy Chief. pic.twitter.com/ix5I5BMez6— Abby Dodge (@Abby_OnAir) December 15, 2022
Graves was one of three finalists for the position. As the lone internal candidate, Graves was selected over Philadelphia Police Department Inspector DeShawn Beaufort and retired New Jersey State Police Lt. Col. Scott Ebner.
"I'm confident in my ability in continuing to advance the Kansas City Police Department as a progressive law enforcement agency," Graves said moments after the announcement was made.
KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucasreleased the requirements for the position in August, saying the board was looking for someone who was "an accomplished professional with a track record of implementing strategies to reduce gun violence while collaborating with an engaged community."
"We talked about who has a vision to make Kansas City safer, who knows the issues of the city and frankly who is going to be an innovator who will go into any room," Lucas told reporters after the announcement.
Stepping into the role formerly held by Rick Smith, who retired in April, Graves is a familiar face to the public. She previously served as one of the department's public information officers.
In that role, she provided information to the media at countless crime scenes and also answered questions about other KCPD issues and initiatives. She previously was commanding KCPD's Patrol Bureau, overseeing all six patrol division stations as well as the Traffic and Special Operations divisions.
Graves has also served with the Drug Enforcement Unit, Career Criminal Squad and worked as a patrol officer since starting her KCPD career as a records clerk in 1997.
Days before the selection was announced, Graves and the other two finalists participated in a public town hall at the Mohart Center.
Despite the hiring, some local organizations were disappointed with how the process was conducted.
Darron Edwards, organizer of the local nonprofit Getting to the Heart of the Matter, was in attendance during Thursday's announcement. He has been critical of the selection process in the past, but felt the Board's decision was appropriate.
“I still believe that the process needs to be worked on for the future of Kansas City and for future police chiefs," Edwards said. "But I am happy with the outcome of this process with this selection.”
The new police chief said transparency as a top priority moving forward.
“Like an open book. Come on in," Graves said. "Obviously Police departments across the nation are under great scrutiny. I want to show if we are not doing something we are supposed to do then let’s talk about it. Just be an open book and handle things as they come.”
Of the 21 applications received during the process, the BOPC reports 11 were from women or people of color.
Graves is KCPD's 48th chief of police and the first woman to hold the position full-time.
"We should acknowledge that the board has named its first permanent woman chief in nearly 150 years," Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a statement. "I want to assure the community that I will continue to do my job as your Prosecutor, as I've demonstrated for more than a decade. As always, we welcome any partnership that comes from law enforcement agencies in our community."
There have been two female interim chiefs of police in KCPD's history, Rachel Whipple in the fall of 2004 and Cheryl Rose in the fall of 2011, according to the Kansas City Police Historical Society.
Joseph Mabin served as KCPD's interim chief since Smith's retirement last spring.
This story is developing and may be updated.