Bill Cochran has been named interim Topeka Police Department chief, the city announced Friday at a news conference at the Law Enforcement Center.
Cochran, who began his career with the TPD in July 1987, was named to the position by new city manager Brent Trout.
“Bill has experience in all aspects of the police department,” Trout said. “He has strong leadership qualities and he obviously has a dedication to the community.”
Cochran has worked in several capacities, including homicide, traffic, field operations and patrol. He was most recently a major in criminal investigations. Cochran is a graduate of the Northwestern University Police Staff and Command School and served in the Army National Guard from February 1985 to July 2005.
Kris Kramer, former interim police chief of nearly a year, announced his retirement last week.
Kramer took over in January for James Brown, who resigned in November 2016.
Two areas Cochran plans to work on include community relations and recruiting.
Cochran said he wants to expand grassroots efforts and “get down into the weeds with our officers,” adding that he’s already had conversations with community stakeholders on what that looks like.
In terms of recruiting Cochran said, “We’re at a very tough situation recruiting, and that’s nationwide. So I have a very aggressive recruiting plan in mind.”
Cochran has also led the department’s implementation of crisis intervention teams.
“The CIT program is going to expand,” he said. “Behavioral health within our community is very important, and what makes that even more important is every issue that we deal with, from the smallest crime to the largest crime or the most dangerous crime, it’s all connected to behavioral health issues. And so if we can be aggressive in working with our community and dealing with those community partners and the individuals within our community, we’re going to be better off.”
Topeka has experienced 25 homicides so far this year.
Cochran said he plans to hold a dialogue on crime strategies and best practices being utilized across the country. He would also like to look at how gun violence is handled and engage with the Topeka Center for Peace and Justice’s subcommittee on gun violence.
The search for a permanent police chief starts Nov. 6.
“My responsibility is to find the best candidate and the best person to become the next police chief, and that entails looking at both internal and external candidates, and so we’ll go through a process that will allow us to open that up to anyone,” Trout said.
Cochran said he would like to be considered.
“I have expressed my interest in a permanent position,” he said.
As interim chief, Cochran’s salary is $115,390.