Q&A with Former Police Chief

Carl Kinnison is the former Police Chief of the Cape Girardeau Police Department. He retired on Aug. 1 after 33 years with the department to pursue a career at Southeast Missouri State University. Kinnison is the director of the Law Enforcement Academy at Southeast, which provides Missouri state police officer certification training for its students. He is also an instructor for the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology at the university.

Q: What are your new duties with the university and what do they involve?

Carl Kinnison: First and foremost, I’m director of the SEMO Regional Law Enforcement Academy. That occupies a portion of my time. The thing I have been working on most diligently this past semester here has been getting the academy to a point where it can offer 24 hours of college credit as a result of attending the academy. That’s not something I started when I came on board. Dr. Bruns and Dr. Brown, the previous director, had begun seeking the possibility of giving college credit. So students, for example, here in the Department of Criminal Justice, who are majoring in criminal justice and looking to get into policing as a career, would have to opportunity to not only graduate with a four-year degree, but also get their [state] certification as part of that college plan.

Q: How does your experience with the Cape Girardeau Police Department help you out with your new position?

CK: Well, I guess that’s the other position, the other hat I wear. I’m an instructor for the Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology here on campus. From a teaching perspective, it gives you that real life experience about things that you’re teaching about in class. The academic environment is a little more philosophically based. You’re talking more theory and philosophy, and some practical applications. But, it gives you the ability to kind of bridge that gap between theory and philosophy and give some real life examples, which I think helps the students when you’re talking about one thing and then you can tie that to something you’ve experienced. It kind of bridges that learning gap. I think that benefits me as an instructor and hopefully students who are attending classes here.

From the academy perspective, it’s all about policing. I spent 33 years working full-time in law enforcement, part of that as a training officer. That certainly helps in my working with the academy and working in training, whether it’s how to handcuff somebody, how to stop somebody in car or some of the constitutional law aspects.

Q: What do you like about your new jobs?

CK: Less stress and flexibility. It’s a different schedule. It’s busy, but so often it’s a different kind of busy. It’s a much more relaxed kind of busy I guess is a way to describe it. The one thing I probably enjoy most is not being on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It took me weeks to kind of let my phone or my pager down and go somewhere without it. When I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl, I thought, “How nice it is [that] I’m going to be able to sit here and watch this game,” knowing that I’m not going to have to get called on something.

Q: Did you ever called out during a Super Bowl?

CK: You know what, I don’t remember. I remember a number of times being called out as I was getting ready to, or in the process of playing golf, or getting ready to go on vacation, or on vacation. The nice thing about today is that you do have a phone and it’s much easier, but when you go back over the years, it is was having to try to call in or carry a pager with you everywhere you went.

Q: Do you miss anything about working at the Cape Girardeau Police Department?

CK: I miss working with the people. There’s no question about that. That’s probably what I miss most. Part of being so busy with the academy and the university is that I’m not sure I’ve really had time to really miss much of the other stuff. I really didn’t have a time period where I could kind of unwind and shift gears into my new career. It was like a whirlwind. I went immediately from policing right into instructing and into the academy. I really had a chance over Christmas break to slow down a little bit and get on top of my game here, but still stay pretty busy. I just don’t think I’ve had a lot of time to miss that other stuff.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory about working at the Cape Girardeau Police Department?

CK: Oh goodness, many, many, many memories. When I look back on my career, probably one of the highlights is the investigation and ultimate charge and conviction of Tim Krajcir for the serial murders. That’s the one thing that comes to the forefront of my mind when I think about that. The 150-year anniversary we celebrated while I was the chief was kind of a standout memory. Seriously, you go back all those years and there are all kinds of different things that are fond memories.

Q: Have you reflected on your career at the Cape Girardeau Police Department?

CK: I think most people reflect on their careers as they go through their career. That’s just human nature to look back on things and see how things have gone. So, yeah I have.

Q: What do you think of it?

CK: I feel very positive about it. It was a great experience for me. I appreciate the opportunity to have worked for the City. I think it was a good, positive relationship on both sides. I can’t imagine not [to] have spent that much time and that much of my career to work for the City. It’s just been very good for me. It certainly has paved the way for this second career.

Below: Kinnison speaks during the annual Fallen Officer Memorial event at Cape County Park in Cape Girardeau.