Cape Girardeau police chief leaving department

Friday, July 6, 2012
In this file photo, Cape Girardeau Police Chief Carl Kinnison speaks at a press conference on Monday, December 10, 2007 at the Osage Center in Cape Girardeau, announcing charges had been filed against Timothy W. Krajcir for five unsolved murders. (Aaron Eisenhauer)

After more than three decades with the Cape Girardeau Police Department, the last seven as chief, Carl Kinnison is stepping down as the city's top cop effective Aug. 1 for a full-time instructor position with Southeast Missouri State University.

Kinnison, 55, submitted his resignation to city manager Scott Meyer on Monday and expects to begin his duties as a full-time instructor this fall, when he will teach for the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology. He has been teaching part time at the university for 15 years, he said.

"It was something I've had in the back of my mind for a number of years, and it just so happened that this year a position became available," Kinnison said Thursday. "I consider this phase two of my professional career, and I look forward to moving into the academic environment."

Kinnison said that his age, 55, was key -- that's the age department employees can retire without penalty to their retirement packages. But the decision to leave a department he began working for in 1978 was not taken lightly, he said.

Kinnison truly worked his way through the ranks, beginning with a part-time position in 1978 as an animal control officer before he took a full-time job the following year. He worked under five chiefs, working in crime prevention, public information, traffic safety, community affairs and training, before he became one himself in 2005.

Kinnison was promoted to lieutenant, then in 2001 became a captain who was placed in charge of operations -- a post he held until he took over the top spot. Kinnison said that facing his last few weeks on the job has made him a little sentimental.

"The thing I will miss the most are the people I have had the opportunity to work with," Kinnison said. "But I see it as moving forward, too. I hope to pass along some of the knowledge I've gained to those people who are interested in pursuing the same type of career."

Kinnison said he hopes he leaves the police department in a good position for the future. The department has seen advancements in radio communication, technology and equipment, Kinnison said. With a public safety sales tax, new police cruisers have been purchased every year, Kinnison said. Grants have been received to add laptops to most police vehicles, with news of 10 more coming just this week.

"I'd like to think we have built a strong foundation for the department to move forward," he said.

But Kinnison acknowledges there are needs -- for every year that he's been chief he's lobbied city leaders for a larger department building to replace the cramped quarters his officers work in. Kinnison would also like to see more personnel so that officers can respond to calls more quickly or to provide more proactive patrols, Kinnison said.

"I would love to see more officers," Kinnison said. "But I think any police chief or police officer you ask would say the same thing."

No exact timeline has been established to replace Kinnison, Meyer said Thursday. But as with every city vacancy, the city manager said it's best to take a step back and search for efficiencies or opportunities. A search for a new chief will be comprehensive, Meyer said, and consideration will be given to external and internal candidates. The search will include advertising and, later, interviews.

But Kinnison's departure certainly leaves a void, Meyer said.

"I think he leaves a good legacy," Meyer said. "He's a guy who came all the way through the system and has had lots of accomplishments. His public service has been almost a lifetime of doing things that are important to the community -- for the safety of the community. He'll be sorely missed."

For his part, Kinnison said being a Cape Girardeau police officer has been a job he has thoroughly enjoyed. The thing he wanted residents to know most, he said, was that the local department is full of incredibly talented and professional people.

"Sometimes you wish people could really understand that," Kinnison said. "We deal with people in times of frustration or hostility -- when bad things happen. But there are just an amazing number of quality individuals we have working here in law enforcement."

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

40 S. Sprigg St., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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