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Finalist for KCPD chief says commissioners were 'not comfortable with an outsider'

Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-28 23:30:42-04

Kansas City has a new police chief, but the man who was passed up for the job told 41 Action News Friday he was surprised by the announcement. 

41 Action News spoke with Norman, Oklahoma Police Chief Keith Humphrey, the other finalist for the police chief position, after the announcement that Major Rick Smith was named police chief. 

“It was very clear they had made up their minds,” Humphrey said. “They were not comfortable with an outsider.”

Humphrey said he was very surprised with the timing of the announcement.

He said he found out about 15-20 minutes after he wrapped up his private interview Friday with the police commissioners.

"I was very shocked and very disappointed," he said. "I thought it would take a little bit more time than that."

Humphrey said he hopes the commissioners can be more professional next time.

"I don't think that board wants what they said they wanted. That's fine," he said. "They have to explain to the citizens of Kansas City." 

The Board of Police Commissioners responded hours later to Humphrey’s claims, with board president Leland Shurin saying he was sad and disappointed with the Oklahoma police chief’s comments.

In a statement to 41 Action News, Shurin wrote:

“I am sure that Chief Humphrey was disappointed and frustrated by the decision of the Board.

With the help and under the strong advice of our consultant, the Board obtained comprehensive background information on the candidates, including talking to former and current employers and colleagues. We held three public forums where members of the public were invited to share comments and concerns. After listening to all those public comments, we spent hours in personal interviews with nine candidates, including upwards of an hour with Chief Humphrey at that time. Last night, we held a two-hour public forum for the two finalists, Chief Humphrey and Major Smith, to answer questions submitted by the citizens of Kansas City. The final interview today lasted about one- and- a- half hours for each candidate, and while important were only one piece of a long, detailed and time-consuming process.  To state that the process was in any way unprofessional is to be inaccurate.

The 3-2 vote by the Commissioners shows in itself that the decision was difficult and took a great deal of time and debate.  The discussion of what each finalist could contribute to the Kansas City Police Department and City of Kansas City, Mo made for a heartfelt debate before finally settling on the 3-2 decision approximately one hour after Chief Humphrey’s interview had ended.”

Despite the criticism from Humphrey on the early announcement, he wished new police chief Smith luck in the future.

Smith will be sworn in as police chief during a ceremony on August 15.

Extended coverage:

KCPD Major Rick Smith named next chief of police

2 named finalists for KCPD police chief

KCMO police chief finalists answer questions at forum