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One last collar for a police chief

By Mike Genet mike.genet@examiner.net

When Captain Joseph Chapman learned of a job possibility with the Oak Grove Police Department, working with new Chief Bryon Price, he jumped on the opportunity as soon as possible.

“I knew that working with him would be a wonderful experience,” Chapman said during Price’s retirement ceremony earlier this month, citing the chief’s patience, honesty and willingness to listen to colleagues. “But fortunately I was wrong; it was even better than wonderful.” 

Captain Joseph Chapman, left, presents Chief Bryon Price and his wife Julie with a ceremonial baton during Chief Price’s retirement ceremony earlier this month. Price served as Oak Grove’s chief for seven years after a long career with Kansas City Police.

Price, who became Oak Grove’s chief in 2013 after 27 years with Kansas City Police, retiring from there as a major, retired this month after seven years as chief. He succeeded Bob Muenz, now the chief in Blue Springs.

“Hard for me to believe it’s already been that long,” Muenz said at the ceremony, but as he told a colleague, “When you’re doing a good job, time flies.”

Price and his wife are moving to Florida to live near their daughters and grandchildren, a move he said he decided to make about a year ago. What he’ll do, he doesn’t know yet, but he’s not ready to completely stop working.

“I’ll have to do something because I’m not the type to do nothing,” Price said shortly before Friday’s moving day.

“I’m proud of the relationship we built with the community. The officers gain respect, and the community gains respect. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true.”

That included various community events, and their fundraising that allowed the department to add it’s first police dog a couple years ago.

“The community decides how it wants to be policed, and they decide you need to have a police dog,” Price said.

Price said he was also proud of changing several department processes and empowering individual officers with leading various tasks such as overseeing property and evidence, outfitting the fleet and starting the K-9 officer program.

“The officers are the end users, so it means a lot more to them, and they’re proud of their accomplishment,” Price said.

Even after Price announced his pending retirement, his tenure couldn’t end without some drama. In early October, a man chased by officers from several agencies ended up in Oak Grove and Price drove to the area, where the manhad rammed an OGPD vehicle.

He noticed the man fleeing and ended up being the one following him toward a wooded area with thick brush.

“My instincts kicked in,” Price said. “I started as an officer just like anybody else, and I always remembered as I moved up the chain of command.”

He followed the man into the brush, quickly lost sight of him and then waited for K-9 officer Merlin while other officers set up a perimeter. Ultimately, the suspect was less than 10 feet away but completely hidden, and Merlin sniffed out and bit the man to apprehend him. 

The suspect, Mark Wayne Sheets, was charged with assaulting a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and stealing a motor vehicle. He’d been wanted for strong-armed robbery and multiple burglaries and stolen vehicles. The handcuffs slapped on the suspect were presented on a plaque to Price at the retirement ceremony.

“My last foot chase, it was my department’s K-9 that got him, and it was my cuffs that went on him,” Price said. “Kind of my last hurrah.”

Price is succeeded by Mike Childs, a longtime officer who rose to major in the Lee’s Summit Police Department.