Danedri Thompson

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There’s a new chief in town, or at least there will be one soon.

Gardner City Council members approved the hiring Gerald C. Cullumber as chief of police at a June 17 council meeting.

Cullumber will replace Ken Francis, who died last August.

Cullumber has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. He began his career with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in 1979. From 1987 to 2010, he worked for the Lenexa Police Department.

Council Larry Fotovich expressed concerns that a panel of outside consultants that assisted in the hiring process included law enforcement staff from the Lenexa department and from the sheriff’s office.

“I guess I’m questioning the validity of the search,” Fotovich said.

He also inquired about the use of outside assistance in a city search. He noted that consultants weren’t used when the city hired other director level employees, including the recent hiring of Mike Hall as community development director.

City administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said the city used best practices of a city manager’s association to draft the police chief hiring process.

City managers don’t typically hire chiefs of police, she explained, because police chiefs tend to serve for long periods of time. For example, former Chief Francis served as Gardner’s police chief for 25 years until his death 10 months ago.

Other communities have hired consulting firms that cost between $25,000 and $50,000 to assist in hiring a new police chief. Harrison-Lee said Johnson County area law enforcement assisted the city of Gardner for free.

Cullumber most recently served as the assistant chief of police for the city of Edwardsville, Kan., population 4,500. He left that job in June of 2012 and has worked as an adjunct professor at Baker University in the meantime.