What Are They Doing Now? Sociology Alumni Update: Scott Lyons

Scott Lyons

Scott Lyons – BA – Sociology, UMKC

Scott Lyons has been named the next chief of the Papillion Police Department.

Currently a major with the Lee’s Summit, Mo., police department, Lyons accepted Mayor David Black’s offer on Saturday. He will be paid $103,000.

The City Council, which must approve the appointment, is expected to address the matter at its Feb. 3 meeting.

Pending council approval, Lyons anticipates being on the job March 2. His appointment fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Leonard Houloose, who spent 22 years in the department, the final 14 as chief.

Black said Lyons’ work in the Lee’s Summit department that grew from 50 sworn officers in the mid-1990s to a staff of more than 200 with a $19 million budget makes him the right man for Papillion, which has a staff of 44, including 39 sworn officers, and a $5.8 million annual budget for fiscal year 2014-15.

“Lee’s Summit is where Papillion is going, and he now has the opportunity to say ‘I’ve been there. How do I take you there?’ ” Black said.

Lyons, 47, said Papillion’s community feel played a critical role in seeking out the job.

“The thing we gravitated toward was the sense of community and the fact that it has good schools,” said Lyons, who with his wife, Julie, has two teenage boys and a 10-year-old daughter.

“You’re always looking for really good professional opportunities, but more than that I had to make sure my family had the greatest opportunity to be in a good community. That’s what we were looking for, to be a part of something special.”

Black said the community aspect was a two-way street.

“Scott loves community, and that was evident in a lot of ways,” Black said. “We weren’t going to get somebody who just wants to make us a large urban area. As we grow, we’ve got to keep what kept Papillion special.

“He’ll be part of the community, and that was critically important.”

Coinciding with Lyons’ pick as police chief was the city’s announcement Sunday that Chris Whitted, one of the three finalists for the chief’s position, has been promoted to deputy chief – the department’s No. 2 in command.

Whitted is a lieutenant with 21 years experience in the department.

Black said the Lyons-Whitted tandem will serve the city well.

“This isn’t Scott or Chris, this is Scott and Chris,” Black said. “The fit of those two gentlemen was a big part of my thought process. I think they’re going to work real well together, and I think we’re getting the best of both worlds of a fresh outlook and stability on the inside.”

Lyons said having a veteran of the department in Whitted will make the department’s management team that much stronger.

“That’s very important – to understand the culture, to understand the traditions, to help bridge the gap and move forward,” Lyons said. “I think we’re going to be a dynamic team together.

“It presents a very great base to move forward on and I’m going to lean heavily on him, as well as the other people within the police department.”

Lyons said establishing a connection with staff as well as Papillion residents is one of his primary goals.

“I like building relationships and connections with people in the community and within the department,” he said. “I really don’t know a different type of policing other than having that close connection and trying to translate that to every officer that becomes a part of your police department.”

“All the staff I interacted with at the police department, they are on the right track. Chief Houloose did a great a job with that police department.”

Black said he expects the department’s rank and file will soon find a comfort level with their new chief.

“He grew up as a cop. He didn’t just take an administrative path. He has worked his way up. He’s a cop’s cop. The officers will resonate with him because of that,” Black said. “He cares about people. Those officers are going to know he cares about them.”

Lyons, who served as Lee’s Summit interim chief for the better part of 2014, started his police career in Raytown, Mo., in 1990. Since joining the Lee’s Summit department in 1995, he has held ranks of detective, sergeant and captain before being named a major in 2008.

A 2001 graduate of the FBI National Academy, Lyons holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Central Missouri State University.

He, along with Whitted and Plattsmouth Police Chief Steve Rathman were named finalists in late December by the city’s Civil Service Commission to lead the Papillion department.

Last week, each of the finalists went through an exhaustive, daylong interview process that included facing a panel of Black, City Administrator Dan Hoins, Houloose, Assistant City Administrator Christine Myers and Officer Chris Goley, president of the police union.

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