County hires former police officer as emergency management director

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

For the past five years, Richard "Dick" Knaup, Cape Girardeau County's new emergency management director, has been doing background investigations on people seeking sensitive government jobs.

That followed seven years as a court security officer at the federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau and 18 years as police officer in Jackson, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant.

As of June 25, Knaup will take on a new role as the person responsible for coordinating responses to natural and man-made disasters in Cape Girardeau County, overseeing the county's 911 system and recommending steps for making both systems better.

Knaup, 54, beat out 14 other applicants to win the job, replacing David Hitt, who retired in April after 12 years on the job. County commissioners, joined by County Clerk Kara Clark and Ruth Ann Dickerson of the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department, interviewed four finalists before choosing Knaup.

Knaup works for USIS, a private investigative company that does background checks of potential federal employees who need security clearances.

Knaup will be paid $34,694 annually, Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said.

The choice was a difficult one, Jones said, with four "very qualified" candidates.

"Any one of them could have done an excellent job," Jones said. "That wasn't the problem. The problem was selecting the best one."

There won't be any big changes in the office right away, Knaup said. "I don't think it is prudent to walk in and make sweeping changes," he said. "There have been two directors prior to me, and I firmly believe they contributed greatly to the office, have done a good job and I don't think there will be a lot that needs to be changed."

Knaup is a life-long resident of Cape Girardeau County. His family owns Knaup Floral in Cape Girardeau, founded by his grandfather and currently owned by his sister.

A major part of the job is keeping the county prepared in case of a major emergency. The challenge of the office attracted him, Knaup said. "I liked what the position did," he said. "I like helping people and dealing with other emergency agencies and providing assistance to those in need."

Knaup is married with two adult sons.

rkeller@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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