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2020 in Review: Top-quality public safety

2020 in Review: Top-quality public safety services and education
Posted on 01/08/2021
Recruitment, technology, employee health, infrastructure and outreach were among the areas the City of Lenexa enhanced in 2020 to help keep our community safer.

Record recruiting

In September, the Lenexa Police Department swore in its largest-ever recruiting class of 13 police officers. We remain committed to hiring high-quality candidates and providing top-notch training. Learn more about careers with the Lenexa Police Department at JoinLenexaPD.com.

Testing a new fire station location

Accreditation process and analysis of the Fire Department’s performance data revealed a need to improve response times to the northeast area of the community. To study the outcomes of having a fire station in this area, the department converted some unused space at the former City Hall as a temporary base of operation starting in mid-September 2020.

Data continues to be collected and evaluated, but improvements in response times are being realized with this new arrangement. The department continues to work with City leaders to identify ways to expand coverage.

Making physical and mental health a priority

The Fire Department continues to work toward reducing occupational risks associated with exposure to cancer-causing agents and post-traumatic stress injuries. These inherent fire service risks require a multi-faceted, systemic approach using a variety of engineering, education and enforcement controls. 

Cancer prevention program improvements in 2020 included the installation of a diesel emissions direct capture ventilation system in apparatus bays. This will improve environmental conditions in an area often occupied by firefighters completing maintenance, training and response activities.

Firefighters are regularly summoned to intervene in visually and emotionally disturbing scenarios. The Department partnered with Paws for Autism (a division of pawsable.life) for a three-month fostering agreement to evaluate the effectiveness and potential benefits having a dog in the fire station has on the well-being of responders. The trial will determine if this arrangement is warranted on a more permanent basis as part of the department’s health and wellness initiatives. It will also help prepare the foster dog to become a care provider for someone with autism or another condition that is improved greatly by the intelligent companionship of a service dog.

Outreach adapts

The Lenexa Fire Department adapted to 2020’s unique circumstances to reach both current and new audiences with fire prevention education.

Since in-person classroom presentations weren’t allowed this year, Fire Department staff created videos with
age-appropriate fire safety lessons following our previously established curriculums. These were shared with daycares, homeschool students and elementary schools, posted online and shared with other agencies.

The Prevention Division hosted three public service announcement videos with the assistance of several surrounding fire departments. Videos showing the dangers of using water to put out a grease fire, improperly frying a turkey and incorrectly caring for a Christmas tree were shared with our residents and other Fire Departments across the metro area.

Staff missed getting to see kids (young and old) visit the stations, climb on the trucks and be mesmerized by the size of it all. Video tours using cell phones and Zoom links helped residents safely experience our Fire operations until they can visit in person.

Tradition of excellence

The Lenexa Police Department has a proud history of professionalism, from the top executive to the
front-line officer.

In October, now-retired Chief Thomas Hongslo became the third Lenexa police chief to receive the prestigious Clarence M. Kelley Award for Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer, joining John Foster (1988) and Ellen Hanson (1996). In the 40-year history of the award, only one other Kansas City metro agency, the Kansas City Missouri Police Department (a four-time winner), has won this honor more times than the Lenexa Police Department.

Street safety

Infrastructure also plays an important role in public safety. A new traffic signal at 79th Street and Renner Road will help prevent vehicle accidents at the entrance to popular Shawnee Mission Park while creating a safer route for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Enhancing technology

The Lenexa Fire Department continually looks for ways to improve service and performance through leveraging technologies. They were one of the first departments in the country to utilize unmanned aerial systems (drones), which was recently recognized as being an industry-leading decision in a white paper published by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. 

Additional enhancements this year included reinvesting in audiovisual technology for training purposes, plus new digital dashboards in all fire stations to improve situational awareness and data accessibility. The dashboard was created internally by Fire Department and Information Technology staff and would have come at a significant cost if outsourced.


Published January 8, 2021