Danedri Thompson
[email protected]
Gardner will have a new police chief come Feb. 27.
City council members approved the hiring of James Pruetting, during a Feb. 16 council meeting.
Pruetting replaces former Chief Gerald Cullumber, who resigned in June 2014 one-week shy of a year on the job. Cullumber was hired after a nearly year-long search to replace former Chief Kenneth Francis, who served in the role for more than 25 years until his death in 2012.
City administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee said the city used an extensive process to recruit, interview and hire   Pruetting. The process included input from a committee of two Gardner residents, Mayor Chris Morrow and council member Kristina Harrison. Final candidates for the role interviewed with committee members and performed a written test and gave a formal presentation.
Prior to being named Gardner Police Chief, Pruetting worked for 31 years in the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department. His background includes operational and budget management,  policy development and improvement, labor relations,  strategic planning as well as training and development.
”I am thrilled about this opportunity to serve a city that is seeing such population growth and economic development,” Pruetting said in a press release. He did not attend the Feb. 16 meeting. “Not only am I looking forward to contributing my law enforcement experience, but I am excited to live and work alongside the great citizens of this community to enhance public safety.”
As the head of the department, Pruetting will lead a team of 34 employees. He also will help set the vision and direction for the police department along with managing operations and the department’s budget.
“What makes this such a special hire is that we were able to gather public input regarding what the people of Gardner wanted in a Police Chief,” Harrison-Lee said. “With the help of community partners, I believe we have the right person with a set of diverse skills and extensive experience to handle this complex job.”
Prior to Pruetting coming aboard, Jay Belcher served as the interim Police Chief.
“Jay has done an excellent job overseeing the department and keeping our city safe while we looked for someone to permanently fill the position,” Mayor Chris Morrow said. “He has set a solid foundation for James Pruetting to build upon, and we’re fortunate to have them both on our law enforcement team.”
Pruetting starts his new position as Police Chief on Feb 27.