Darryl Forte, who retired last year as Kansas City police chief after five and a half years, is the interim Jackson County sheriff, serving the remainder of the year.
County Executive Frank White Jr. chose Forte from a trio of finalists recommended by a nine-person committee that conducted interviews last Friday. Forté replaces Mike Sharp, who resigned last month.
In November, voters will elect a sheriff to complete the final two years of Sharp's term, starting Jan. 1, 2019. Filing for the Aug. 7 primaries for that election closes at 5 p.m. Monday. Forte is among four Democrats and one Republican who have filed so far.
Forte, who had been KCPD's first black chief, now holds that same distinction for the Sheriff's Office. He is the county's 43rd sheriff.
“Ultimately, I believe Darryl Forte is the right person for the job,” White said Thursday morning before Forte took his oath of office in front of the Jackson County Courthouse in downtown in Kansas City. “He has put together an impressive plan to build on the strengths of the Sheriff’s Office and make changes necessary to ensure the office is one we all can be proud of.”
White cited Forte's focus on improving employees' overall well-being and “bridging the gap” between officers and the community.
In introducing Forte, White also praised the other two finalists – retired Kansas City Police Major Rosilyn Allen and Sheriff's Office Patrol Enforcement Captain Mike Rogers – and their credentials.
Allen and Rogers have filed to run against Forte in the Democratic primary in August, as has retired KC Police sergeant Ramona Arroyo. Republican David J. Bernal also is running.
After being sworn in by Presiding Judge John Torrence at the corner opposite from the KCPD headquarters where he worked for years, Forte did not take questions but expressed his gratitude and said he promised, “I will run hard every day, every day.”
“It is my goal to help staff reach their full potential, but we need a clear, agreed-upon vision in order to get there,” Forte said in a news release. “I look forward to working with them to establish a direction for transformation and growth at the Sheriff's Office.”
Forte has earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Park University and a master's degree in management from Baker University, and he had been taking law classes at UMKC since his retirement from KCPD. Forte began his career with KCPD in 1985 and rose to captain in 1997, major in 2000 and deputy chief in 2006. He became chief of police in 2011.
The other two candidates interviewed by the committee were Arroyo and James Ripley, retired Missouri State Highway Patrol lieutenant. The five interviewed candidates came from a pool of 12 applicants, White said.
Sharp, who had been elected to a third four-year term in November 2016, resigned after court documents revealed an ongoing sexual and inappropriate financial relationship between Sharp and a former Sheriff's Office employee who had an ongoing sexual harassment suit against the county. That case was approved Monday by the County Legislature to be settled, with mutual release of claims, at no further cost to the county.