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Kansas Bureau of Investigation director Thompson to retire in January

By: - December 1, 2022 12:47 pm
Kirk Thompson, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, says he will retire Jan. 10 to conclude a law enforcement career of more than 45 years. His replacement will be chosen by Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

Kirk Thompson, director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, says he will retire Jan. 10 to conclude a law enforcement career of more than 45 years. His replacement will be chosen by Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

TOPEKA — The director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation plans to retire in January in concert with the exit of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, officials said Thursday.

KBI director Kirk Thompson said he would step down Jan. 10, bringing to close a law enforcement career of more than four decades. Schmidt, who didn’t run for reelection as attorney general, will likewise depart in early January. The attorney general is responsible for hiring the KBI director.

“Serving as director of the KBI has been the highpoint of my career,” Thompson said. “I am grateful to Attorney General Schmidt for allowing me the opportunity to work with the exceptional men and women of the KBI.”

He said the KBI during the past decade had been dedicated to safeguarding the public and championing justice for victims of violent crime. He expressed confidence the KBI would continue to successfully grapple with public safety challenges and “make Kansas a better place to live.”

“Kirk Thompson has served as an exceptional leader for the KBI,” said Schmidt, who lost a campaign for governor in November. “Never drawing attention to himself, he always has insisted on the highest standards of professionalism and has moved the bureau forward in so many quiet but critical ways.”

Attorney General-elect Kris Kobach, who will be sworn into office in January, would be responsible for appointing Thompson’s replacement at KBI. He said Thompson had a distinguished career in law enforcement and “we all owe him our gratitude for his service to our state.”

J.R. Claeys, a state senator who is on Kobach’s transition team, said several well-qualified candidates had expressed interest in the KBI post during the past few months.

“We are reviewing those options to find the right fit and experience to guide the agency into the future,” Claeys said.

Thompson began his law enforcement career in 1976 as a deputy sheriff in Barton County. He moved to Topeka in 1979 after joining the KBI as a special agent. He was promoted to associate director and assistant director at KBI until appointed the agency’s 12th director in 2011.

In 2015, the KBI opened a new state-of-the art forensic laboratory at Washburn University. During his time as director, Thompson expanded the KBI child victim unit. He also established a cyber crime unit to investigate large-scale threats to Kansas.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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