Kansas City Deputy Police Chief Darryl Forte, 49, a lifelong Kansas City resident and a 26-year department veteran, was sworn in Thursday as the new Chief of Police.
The Board of Police Commissioners voted unanimously to approve Forte for the position, making him the first black police chief Kansas City has ever had.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Councilman John Sharp, who represents the 6th District and chairs the city council’s Public Safety and Emergency Services Committee. “He had very specific ideas about more effectively preventing and solving homicides and other violent crimes that I thought were right on target.”
Forte won the position over two fellow in-house candidates, KCPD Deputy Chief Kevin Masters and retired KCPD Deputy Chief Vincent Ortega, as well as Fayetteville, N.C. Chief of Police Thomas Bergamine and Rochester, N.Y. Executive Deputy Chief George E. Markert.
“We had three really strong local candidates,” said Councilman Scott Taylor, 6th District At-Large. “The advantage of having a chief with local experience is that he can hit the ground running.”
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said he was confident that Forte could help improve communication between City Hall and the police department. He said Forte was the best choice because he has long experience dealing with violent crime issues in Kansas City.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said Forte was the right choice.
“I’m confident Chief Forte will be a good partner, not only with the prosecutor’s office but also with the many other partners – from business leaders to City Council members to residents – whose time and effort will be required to improve our city’s public safety.”
Forte has most recently been in charge of the department’s financial and capital improvements units. He joined the force at age 23. By 2003, he was a major in the violent crimes division. He achieved notoriety for his work in catching Terry Blair, a serial killer who murdered six women.
During interviews for the position Forte outlined specific plans such as flooding homicide scenes with resources to quickly get statements from witnesses, requiring homicide detectives to stay with the department for at least five years, and to start a unit to support witnesses and provide assistance to victims.
Forte also shared a strategic plan to build trust between the department and the community, including a monthly public meeting to give residents direct access to him.
At several public hearings leading up to the decision, residents and community leaders from across the Metro urged the commission to find a local candidate who had experience dealing with violence.
“I’m really pleased to hear Chief Forte will be targeting hot spots and directing resources to help fight violent crime,” Taylor said.