By Ryan Gueningsman
INDEPENDENCE, MAPLE PLAIN, MN With current West Hennepin Public Safety (WHPS) Director Ray McCoy’s retirement set for April 30, the changing of the guard will see a familiar face at the helm of the department.
Sgt. Gary Kroells, presently second in command at the department, was appointed as the next director of public safety by the police commissioners March 18.
At the Jan. 28 police commission meeting, the commissioners reviewed the philosophy, leadership and service currently provided by WHPS.
WHPS commissioners chose to look at an internal candidate versus doing a national search for the next director of public safety.
Kroells has been employed by WHPS since Oct. 1, 1996.
He was promoted to sergeant in 2005, and has served in this position until his recent promotion.
During his time at WHPS, Kroells has served 10 years as the DARE officer for Delano Public Schools, five years as a member of the Lake Minnetonka SWAT team, and has continued his role as second in command for WHPS.
“It is one of the greatest compliments a leader can be given to appoint the next person in command to take over as director,” McCoy said. “This succession of planning started approximately three years ago. It has been my pleasure working towards this goal with Sgt. Kroells. I look forward to a bright future for WHPS under his leadership.”
Kroells will be the fourth director since WHPS was formed in 1979. Previous directors are James Franklin and Larry Bailey. McCoy served as director since Jan. 1, 2001.
McCoy started with WHPS as a charter member of its reserve officer unit in 1980. He was a reserve officer until 1983, when he was hired by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and then hired as a WHPS police officer in 1984.
McCoy has served many roles over the years for WHPS, including serving on the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office radio board, Minnesota Chiefs Educational Training Institute, Lake Area Police Chaplains, charter membership of West Metro Drug Task Force, Minnesota public safety awards committee, emergency management for the cities of Maple Plain and Independence, and 14 years on the committee board for the Hennepin County Justice Integration.
This committee worked to integrate all justice partners to freely share information and reduce redundancies, making sure that the subject data is pure and correct starting with the officer in the squad car.
McCoy said he is looking forward to his retirement from WHPS and looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that are ahead of him.
He resides in the city of Independence with his wife and one of his favorite pastimes is enjoying family time and spoiling the grandchildren.
“I am extremely excited for Sgt. Gary Kroells, and I look forward to being a civilian and supporting the great local police department,” McCoy said.
McCoy announced his intent to retire Dec. 23, 2013.