Prairie Village isn’t the only northeast Johnson County community that will have witnessed a major shift on its police force in 2015.
Leawood has announced that John Meier, the city’s police chief for the past nine years, will retire in September. Meier will have spent 39 years as a police officer when he retires at age 61.
“There’s a certain time that comes when it’s time to let somebody else take over,” he said. “I’ve had a great career. You don’t want to be the guy who stays longer than he should. And I’ve loved being a police officer, but there’s more to life than just your career.”
Meier said that while he and his wife plan on doing some traveling and volunteer work, he doesn’t have any major post-retirement plans.
“I want to really retire – take the time to relax and enjoy life,” he said.
Among the most notable changes in the Leawood police department during Meier’s tenure was the opening of the Leawood Justice Center at Town Center Drive and Tomahawk Creek Parkway in late 2013 after more than a year of construction. Prior to its opening, the entire police department was housed in the old station at 96th Street and Lee Boulevard in north Leawood, a facility that was built when the city and its police force were much smaller.
“There was no room for anything in that building,” he said. “The fact that they got the Justice Center built and opened was definitely the biggest thing during my time. The elected officials and community knew we needed it and got behind it.”
Leeward Mayor Peggy Dunn lauded Meier for his work leading the department, noting Leawood’s exceptionally low rate of violent crime. In 2014, the U.S. average for violent crime victims was 26 per 1,000 residents. In Leawood, the rate was .03 per 1,000 residents. In 2014, Meier won the Clarence M. Kelly Award from the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission.
“We have all benefited greatly and share the utmost respect and tremendous appreciation for Chief Meier’s extraordinary dedication and unparalleled commitment to the city of Leawood and our broad community,” Dunn said.
Meier’s last day will be Sept. 17, a Thursday.
“I’ve never liked coming in to work on Fridays,” he said. “So I decided I wouldn’t.”
Leawood is currently engaged in a search for Meier’s replacement.