After 40 years in law enforcement Sherriff Frank Denning is retiring. Photo courtesy of JOCO.org


Area residents are losing a familiar face when Sheriff Frank Denning retires after 40 years in law enforcement with 30 in Johnson County.
“You just never knew when you would run across Frank,” said Don Roberts, Edgerton mayor. “I have seen him stop by a motorist assist to offer any services that might be needed.  He has also been on large calls with SWAT teams doing what they do best.  Day, nights, weekends it never mattered he was always available to offer his personal assistance.  His dedication was most certainly top notch.”
“The loss of Sheriff Denning to retirement will be profound,” said Chris Morrow, Gardner mayor. “He’s a great lawman and administrator. I know of no one who has a better temperament to hold the office of Johnson County Sheriff.”
Denning joined the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in 1978. During his time with the sheriff’s office he worked as a deputy serving in the adult detention center, patrol, investigations and narcotics divisions. He left the sheriff’s office in 1996, to become the police chief at Roeland Park until he returned to the sheriff’s office in August, 2002.
Gardner resident Rita Jones, Denning’s administrative assistant, says, “I have been extremely blessed to have worked with Sheriff Frank Denning for nearly 25 years.  For the past ten years, I was honored to be his executive assistant.  We have shared numerous trips to Topeka to work on legislative matters, attended more meetings that we care to remember, and most importantly we have shared a lot of laughter.”
In 2004, Johnson County voters elected Denning as their 27th sheriff. In 2008 and 2012, he was reelected to the office of sheriff.
Since 1996, Edgerton has contracted for police services with the sheriff’s office; this year for about $275,000.
“He (Denning) has not only been the top law enforcement official in the county and Edgerton but has also been a true leader in providing a personal touch directly to citizens,” Roberts said.
Roberts listed several Edgerton initiatives, including: bike patrol, city council meeting attendance and city car badges.
“In Edgerton we have seen the bike patrol increase community relations with citizens, especially teenagers.,” Roberts said. “Under Frank the sheriff’s department command staff started to show up regularly at Edgerton City Council meetings.  This provided both Edgerton and the sheriff’s department with an open line of communication.  We now function more as a team rather than separate agencies.”
In addition, “Edgerton” was added on the badge on the local patrol car.  “At first I thought it was just cool,” Roberts said. “But after its implementation it truly had a positive impact on the community.  The pride factor was a very big win for the Sheriff’s department thanks to Mr. Denning.”
On Dec.9, more than 100 people gathered to celebrate Denning’s career at a retirement reception in Olathe. Denning was presented with several certificates of appreciation and honors including the Fred Allenbrand Award from the Johnson County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association.
Dozens of attendees stood in a receiving line before speeches and comments from Denning’s wife, Judge Robin Lewis.
Lewis served as municipal judge in Edgerton, and currently serves in Gardner.
Lewis, who swore Denning into office for each of his four terms as Johnson County Sheriff, presented the history of Denning’s career that started in Great Bend, Kan.
“Sheriff Dennings greatest accomplishment, and it has been in Gardner, is the establishment of a world-class crime lab in Johnson County,” said Morrow. “It is the envy of counties across the country and a valuable resource in solving crimes in our county and communities across the State of Kansas.”
“Sheriff Denning truly cares about the men and women of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office,” Jones said. “His legacy is one of integrity, fairness and service to the citizens of Johnson County.  I am proud to call him my friend.
Denning joined the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office in 1978 as a deputy in corrections. He became the county’s undersheriff in 2002 and was elected sheriff in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
Calvin Hayden was elected sheriff in November, 2016 and takes office next week.
“We are lucky to have a new sheriff starting who is also an experienced lawman and administrator,” said Morrow. “I wish Sheriff Hayden and the Johnson County Sheriff’s office the best of luck during the transition in 2017, and for many years to come.”