John Lamb joins the Junction City Police Department as its new Chief of Police after many years of experience with the sheriff’s department in Jacksonville, Florida.
He was born and raised in Jacksonville and had just retired from his position with the sheriff’s department, but at the same time he wanted something more.
“I was looking for an opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream of leading a police department,” Lamb said. “So I put my resume out on the, on the web and looked at what was available.”
He was invited to interview for the police chief position in Junction City — someplace he was entirely unfamiliar with at the time.
So Lamb and his family went west and, he said, they liked what they saw.
Now that he has been sworn in and has taken over from Interim Police Chief Kirt Nichols, Lamb looks forward to interacting with the Junction City community and building up community relations. He hopes to have a conversation with community members and the employees of his new department as well.
Lamb wants to strengthen the JCPD’s ties with local schools and engage with area youth.
“There’s always room for improvement,” he said. “Just engaging to all the activities we do and then growing from that. Just building on the professionalism of this agency area has exemplified the and that’s the main thing.”
Lamb plans to engage with the community personally by walking in it.
“I haven’t been able to establish it, yet,” he said. “But my goal is once a month, I want to get out and walk certain part of the community. Be it an apartment complex, be it a neighborhood, but usually about a mile footprint. And what we’ll do is we try and knock on every door within that footprint.”
He and his officers will knock on doors and talk with residents to find out what their concerns are and what the JCPD might have to offer.
Lamb also hopes to build up the department in other ways.
“We look at how we deploy our officers what we can do to get more bang for our buck, but more so value added to service they provide,” he said.
It could, he said, be the thing that helps them crack a case. His officers, after all, aren’t omnipresent, Lamb said — they can’t see everything.
He foresees community meetings, as well.
“What I’d like to do is look at the geographical makeup of the city — I know we’ve divided the four areas of patrol,” he said. “So do we want to keep those same geographical locations and maybe have meetings once a quarter, once a month, with members of each of those areas? Because quite honestly, people who live on the south side of town really don’t care about what’s going on in north side of town because it doesn’t impact them. So we keep it kind of centralized to their geographic where their problems are same problems as the people because they live around and around there.”
Lamb hopes to help improve communication within department.
This includes making sure officers aren’t being cross-dispatched, which saves on fuel and resources while lowering response times.
Looking at field unit analysis, Lamb said, is another thing he plans to do now that he has taken over the JCPD.
“You look at certain areas where police officers need to be better deployed in,” he said, such as high crime areas.
It’s all about changing with the times and the needs of the community.
“I mean, it really is exciting to see that law enforcement evolves,” Lamb said. “As crime evolves, we evolve with it, and that’s where you’ll see successful agencies who are open to changing and evolving and making those changes to stay with current with the, with the crime trends of today.”
After a little less than a week in office, Lamb knows policing Junction City will come with challenges.
The high transient community could pose a challenge, Lamb said.
“So I think trying to establish those relationships with them — to get them involved while they’re here and ensure that they take a a lasting, positive impression with them when they go and then some time in their life hopefully return,” he said. “But I think that’s important. It’s making sure that we leave them with a positive impact of not just the community but also the police department.”
Lamb brings with him about 26 years worth of law enforcement experience.
He entered law enforcement after he left the Navy Reserves. He held an office job with a bank for a while after leaving the military, but ultimately the police force drew him in.
“I think it really came from that attraction to like a servant heart where you’re drawn towards a community that you that you reside in and you want to do what you can to to make it better,” Lamb said.”And that was one thing I really enjoyed doing was was fighting crime and having an impact; recognizing I couldn’t do it all by myself, but that was a I was a cog in the in the ultimate wheel to make it work.”
As he moved up through the ranks of the sheriff’s department, he realized he had natural leadership skills and that he enjoyed using them.
While he enjoys what he calls “the thrill of the hunt” that comes from investigations, he enjoys the other aspects of his job as well.
He served in Jacksonville as a lieutenant for five years. Lamb served commanding officer within the agency’s Community Affairs Division.
“We had the school resource officer program we had all the crime prevention programs, the interactions with the community, the engagement stuff,” he said. “That’s one thing I’m looking forward to bringing here is just to build on the stuff that — the community engagement — between evolving and it’s already done.”
He comes from a much-larger community but believes he’ll find his home here.
“I think in a smaller community, you have a greater opportunity to make a more profound impact … Here with a smaller agency and a smaller community, you have a greater opportunity to make positive impact quicker, which is really nice. ” Lamb said. “But on the other side of that coin, you also have the probably the opportunity to make negative impact quicker too. So you’ve got to be mindful that.”
So far, he said, the community has been welcoming.
“Kansas is really is growing on me,” Lamb said. “It’s exciting. It’s interesting. It’s a different landscape and I’m not familiar with.”