Joe Piccinini’s daily commute from Lee’s Summit to downtown Kansas City has not been as smooth as his transition from police chief to deputy director of a regional detention center.
Piccinini retired from the Lee’s Summit Police Department in January, and, after a few months of moderate activity, he decided in May to rejoin the workforce as deputy director of the Jackson County Detention Center in Kansas City.
“I took a couple of weeks to go fishing and I spent a couple of weeks in Florida,” Piccinini said of his post-retirement activities. “I did a couple of home-improvement projects, but you know what, I had always thought I would go back and work and this job became available and I was really happy to get it.”
Piccinini spent the previous six years as police chief in Lee’s Summit, and 30 on the force. He said his current duties include mostly administrative and supervisory work and he doesn’t have much – if any – contact with inmates housed at the detention facility. Piccinini supervises building staff that includes everyone from corrections officers to grounds crew members.
“It’s a much different environment,” Piccinini said of his new position. “It’s definitely a change from the police chief job in Lee’s Summit. The transition is going really good.”
Piccinini began his career in Lee’s Summit as a probationary police officer in 1983 and rapidly moved up in the departmental ranks from 1985 to 2005. He was named acting police chief on Nov. 1, 2007 and officially became chief the following January.
Piccinini replaced Ken Conlee, the current director of corrections for Jackson County and Piccinini’s immediate supervisor.
“It has been a smooth transition here because my new boss is my old boss,” Piccinini said. “He was my chief of police when I was the major there in Lee’s Summit. It’s been an easy transition because I’ve worked for him for years.”
Conlee, who served as police chief in Lee’s Summit from 1996 until his retirement in 2007, considered the Jackson County Detention Center lucky to have a deputy director with the knowledge, experience and skill set as Piccinini.
“I think Joe is going to be an excellent corrections department administrator,” said Conlee, a Lee’s Summit resident. “His skill set will transfer very well to this operation. I thought it was very fortuitous to have someone of his qualifications to come down here and work.
“For me, when I came here – and I assume it will be the same for Joe – the content specialty of being a corrections administrator is different than the scope of work as police chief, but the skill set adapts fairy readily. I think he is doing fine.”
And about that drive from Lee’s Summit to downtown Kansas City, Piccinini jokingly said: “The commute is terrible. I’ve tried about three or four different routes. It’s something I don’t look forward to. When I worked for Lee’s Summit, I was about a three-minute drive away. Now it’s about a 30-minute drive everyday.”