Former Lee’s Summit Director of Police Charles Leary died recently.
“Chuck” Leary, 79, died Feb. 24. He was sworn in August 23, 1976 to lead the city’s police force, serving until February 22, 1980. Instead of using the title of Chief of Police, Leary chose to use “Director of Police.”
Leary wanted to bring a different prospective and ideas to the make-up of administration, according to the department’s history.
At that time there were 58 employees at the police department, the city’s population was about 30,000. Leary reorganized the administrative structure of the department. He hired the first woman to be commissioned as a police officer in December 1976. Director Leary added a crisis intervention/short term counseling person to the department. Safety Town was born and grants were requested from the state for a model traffic program, which would add personnel, vehicles, and equipment.
Solutions were sought to rid the city of vandalism, loitering, and traffic congestion caused by some youths in the downtown area. A curfew was discussed and parking ordinances, to help alleviate the issues. A merit for pay system was implemented by the City and opposed by the police and fire employees.
The formation of the Fraternal Order of Police was thwarted and law suits filed against Leary and the city, by officers, because they felt coercion was used to dissuade the FOP’s reactivation. They also were opposed to the merit pay plan that had been implemented. Leary left the department in 1980 to become the Senior Law Enforcement Advisor to the Saudi Arabia Highway Patrol project. After retiring from law enforcement, where he was police chief for several communities, he became a professor adjunct teaching Criminal Justice for several colleges until his passing.