Police Chief Lane Roberts has announced his intention to retire from the Joplin Police Department, effective March 28.
Roberts, who was hired in April 2007, made his plans known in a news release Monday morning.
“I don’t know that full retirement is of any interest to me, but it is time for me to vacate this position and allow a great agency to become even greater,” Roberts said in a telephone interview.
Roberts said that while he could not rule out the possibility of taking another position in law enforcement, he has no plans to do so at this time.
“I think my wife and I are going to enjoy a little down time and see how that turns out,” he said.
He added with a laugh: “I don’t know if I’m going to be any good at loafing, but I’m going to give it a try.”
Roberts, who began his career in law enforcement in 1971, came to Joplin from Oregon. During his tenure, the Police Department’s number of sworn officers increased from 78 to 111 through provisions of a public safety sales tax that are now fully implemented. He also oversaw expansion of the city jail from 42 to 60 beds, two accreditations of the department through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and police response to the 2011 tornado.
Roberts said he must share any credit for accomplishments during his stint in Joplin with the other members of what he considers “the best command staff anywhere.”
“I don’t know that I have ever been prouder to be associated with a community than I was with Joplin during (the tornado emergency) and the recovery that followed and continues to this day,” Roberts said in the news release.
He also confessed during the interview to having developed “a kind of a kinship” with the community in the aftermath of the tornado that may keep him and his wife here in retirement.
City Manager Mark Rohr praised the job that Roberts has done in an email Monday.
“Joplin is a safer place because of him,” Rohr said. “Joplin is a better place because of him.”
The steps of seeking a successor to Roberts have yet to begin, Rohr said.
STATISTICS RELEASED MONDAY with the announcement of Joplin police Chief Lane Roberts’ retirement show that Joplin’s crime rate declined 27 percent during his tenure, including a 15 percent drop in violent crimes. Traffic accidents dropped off 21 percent over the same period.