TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – After 33 years with the Topeka Police Department, Chief Bill Cochran will be retiring in January 2021.
Chief Cochran started his service at the department on July 13, 1987. Through his time, he has worked in several capacities at TPD including homicide, traffic, patrol, field operations and criminal investigations. Before Cochran became the chief, he was a major in criminal investigations as the Bureau Commander.
Cochran was officially named the police chief in January of 2018. He took the job with a big hurdle ahead of him as 2017 became the deadliest year on record in Topeka with 29 killings. After just one year on the job, homicides in Topeka went down by more than 40% from that deadly year, logging 17 killings in 2018.
In March of 2018 Cochran went to Frisco, Texas to receive the department’s re-accreditation.
Months later that year, in September of 2018, Cochran defended his officers’ actions after a local man posted an angry viral video claiming officers broke down his door.
In 2019 Cochran helped form the ‘Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships’ program to have open discussions between people who live in the community and the people who protect them.
Strengthening community relations carried into 2020 as well when the department unveiled a new initiative to create a steering committee. Law enforcement officials, city leaders and citizens formed a committee to have tough conversations.
Cochran has led the department through a pandemic. Not only to make sure the officers and staff at the department stay safe and healthy, but to make a plan on enforcing health guidelines. The department created a phone bank where people could call to report crimes.
In the midst of the pandemic, protests about police brutality sparked up across the nation after George Floyd was killed in the hands of a Minnesota police officer. On June 1, 2020, dozens of people gathered outside the police department and vandalized a police car.
Months later, Cochran was at the table of a 4-hour special meeting where dozens of people in the community addressed him and the city council on police practices.
Cochran has also served in the Army National Guard from February 1985 until he retired as a First Lieutenant in July of 2005. He served one combat tour in Iraq in 2004. Cochran received his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Washburn University in 1987 and his Masters of Business Administration from Friends University in 2010. He is also a graduate of the Northwestern University Police Staff and Command School.