ICYMI: Kansas Highway Patrol’s New Leader Colonel Erik Smith Seeks Solutions

KEY QUOTE: “What I’m focused on is just making peace with the past and trying to take the agency into the future,” Smith said in an interview with The Star four weeks after he took over as the patrol’s acting superintendent as he awaits confirmation by the Kansas Senate.

Kansas Highway Patrol’s new leader Col. Smith seeks solutions
Katie Bernard, Kansas City Star
August 7, 2023

  • [Col. Erik Smith], who began his career in the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, has promised a reset — and so far has garnered bipartisan support.
  • After years of political squabbling over the future of the force, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are optimistic about the force’s future under Smith’s leadership.
  • “Bringing in Col. Smith with his vast amount of experience, being outside of the Kansas Highway Patrol, I think bodes really well,” said Rep. Stephen Owens, a Hesston Republican. He added that the troopers he’d spoken to had good first impressions.
  • “There’s nothing off the table for him and he’s willing to listen,” said Sean McCauley, a Kansas City attorney who represents the Troopers Association. “That is the breath of fresh air that the organization really needs.”
  • Clear and open lines of communication, Smith said, will be the key to bringing a culture of energy and passion to the agency that helps recruitment and morale.