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When

he

first

became

Superintendent in

early 2015, Col.

Bruce said his focus

was on morale.

While that word

has become sort of

cliché, the attitude

of the employees in

the Patrol and their

perceptions were

the first thing Mark

wanted to address.

This was important,

considering it was

the most conclusive

item

from

the

KHP survey done

during the tenure

of the previous

s u p e r i n t e n d e n t .

Mark

said

his

philosophy was to

give the agency back to the employees, and to entrust them

to do the job they were hired to do. Part of that process

was reviewing all the job descriptions in the agency, so

everyone knew what they were expected to do.

“People got into the KHP for the right reasons, but they

didn’t feel appreciated by the agency,” said Col. Bruce. “It

was important to get everyone on the same page, and to help

get over things attributed to the previous administration.”

Col. Bruce said it was simple. Treat others like you

want to be treated and maintain standards, so people

know what is next. He explained it was imperative to

look at the agency like a business using the best possible

decisions to realign sections to be more effective and to

acquire additional resources. A survey shortly after the new

administration took over in 2015 was a positive indicator

they were moving in the right direction, but Col. Bruce

said, “We are still working on it.”

After taking over as Superintendent, Col. Bruce

opened up dialogue with the KSTA in order to be open and

receptive on both sides. He knows the KSTA exists for a

reason, so he wanted an open line of communication at all

times rather than just through the meet and confer process.

Another focus of Col. Bruce and his administration

is the reduction of fatalities out on the roadways.

Special enforcements in certain problem areas have been

implemented, and the KHP continues to publicize these

so the public knows what they are doing. The special

enforcements are also being used to help educate the public.

“Driving shouldn’t be a casual activity, but we can’t

stop the distractions,” said Col. Bruce. “As cars continue to

come with more bells and whistles than people ever know

how to use, we aren’t just fighting cell phones anymore.

Until citizens stop treating driving like a casual activity, we

can’t significantly reduce fatalities.”

When I asked about Col. Bruce’s least favorite thing

about leading the KHP, he said “Discipline. Discipline

is necessary, but you never enjoy it. We care about our

people, but it is part of the law enforcement world in order

to protect the agency and its employees.”

What does Col. Bruce see as the next goal during his

tenure as Superintendent? He says the next step is more

people. In 2006, the KHP had 501 troopers. In 2014, they

had 414 and were about 100 short of where they needed

to be. During this shortage, local police and sheriff’s

departments have had to go help patrol the highways.

Col. Bruce believes they need to be allowed to focus on

local issues in their communities rather than patrolling the

highways, which is the job of the KHP.

Also, the KHP needs to figure out how to balance road

duties with special capabilities to help departments across

the state. That means more people to work on special units,

and others to cover the highways. Col. Bruce says the

actions of the legislature, and the larger recruit classes are

helping fill the gap. But, more bodies and more money are

going to be needed in the future to help keep the citizens of

Kansas safe.

Col. Bruce will serve as the Superintendent of the

KHP until at least the end of 2018. He isn’t sure what the

future holds at that point, but he is currently focused on the

employees of the KHP and serving the citizens of Kansas.

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