Rotating chiefs

Moving pieces at city hall, no matter where the city or what situation predicated the moves, are always a work in progress.

In that regard, Lee’s Summit is just as normal as any other town.

In the last week, we’ve seen the transition in and transition out of two major roles in our police and fire departments. And while shakeups like that can sometimes make a Richter Scale movement in the foundation of a city government, in Lee’s Summit we assume, and rightfully so, that services and business as usual move on smoothly.

We spent many, many months with Maj. Scott Lyons acting in the role of interim chief with Joe Piccinini retiring in January of 2014 after 30 years with the Lee’s Summit Police Department.

And although the national search for Piccinini’s replacement didn’t ultimately fall to Lyons, police services, community policing and the business of protecting and serving moved on throughout the streets and neighborhoods of Lee’s Summit. And Lyons should be lauded for his past and continued service to the LSPD and his leadership during that transition.

On Sept. 2, Travis Forbes took the helm of the LSPD, bringing a wealth of policing, tactical, drug enforcement and criminal justice experience to a town nearly the population of the one he just left, Independence.

From his start in 1992 to 2006 with Independence, Forbes worked his way through the ranks from street cop to sergeant, captain and major. In 2013, he was named the deputy chief in Independence.

What Forbes brings to Lee’s Summit is a knowledge of working crime, dealing with criminals and managing a large force. Independence, while boasting roughly 20,000 more residents, has far more instances of crimes like domestic violence and burglary than Lee’s Summit has on a year-to-year basis.

That’s not an indictment of any police action or leadership, obviously, but more a symptom of the socio-economic aspects of both towns.

Forbes ascended through the ranks in Independence for a reason, and more than one officer in that town has told me his loss from the Queen City of the Trails is the gain for Yours Truly in Lee’s Summit.

He leaves an area where community policing was ever present to one that expects a strong, visible police presence and understands the values of law enforcement as it relates to our environment. And he walks into a situation where he has the expertise of Lyons and three other majors, John Boenker, Curt Mansell and Mark Taylor – all with over 100 years of police experience under their collective belts.

And down Douglas Street to the FD HQ, the firemen can safely say the same.

Keith Martin will hang up his hat and boots on Sept. 22 after 38 years with the LSFD and hand it, for the time being, to Rick Poeschl, one of many capable and reliable assistant chiefs on the department. And Poeschl will do what Lyons did in the interim – run the department and maintain the level of service we expect.

So, like many towns around that 100,000, we find ourselves in occasional transition.

In the case of Lee’s Summit, though, we are fortunate.

Services to our community in the most crucial areas never take a break due to leadership changes and we commit ourselves to finding the absolute best to lead our forces.

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