The City of Leawood can trace some of its earliest roots to law enforcement. In 1922, a retired police officer from Oklahoma City, Oscar G. Lee, moved to Johnson County. Lee Boulevard, the street that the Leawood Police Department was housed on until 2013, still bears his name.
The Leawood Police Department was started on January 18, 1949, when Robert E. Combs was chosen as the city’s first Chief of Police. The first officers were unpaid volunteers. By 1971, the city had gradually hired paid patrol officers, and had grown to a staff of 14 officers under the command of Chief Martin J. Kelly.
As the city has grown, so has the police department. In 1986 there were 26 full-time officers and six civilians, including one dispatcher. Now the department has 62 sworn officers and 22 civilian employees.
The police department first operated out of three rooms in the converted basement/garage of the City Hall and remained there until 1974. With the continued growth of the city and the department, the police department moved into a larger building at 9617 Lee Boulevard, which it shared with other city departments until after a major remodeling in 1990. In 1999, the continued growth of the department led to the expansion into a second building located behind Fire Station #1.
The early 2000s saw the purchase of land for a brand new station to house the police department and municipal court. Work began in earnest in 2011 when Hoefer Wysocki Architects (HWA) of Leawood were chosen to design the new facility. From the basic outline of the building to the locations of the various functions within the structure, HWA presented their concepts and an employee committee helped refine the vision, ultimately settling on an L-shaped building to best suit the needs of Court and the Police Department. The exterior was planned to include red brick walls and slate roofs with white columns beside the main entrances and a rotunda on the northeast corner to reflect the colonial look of City Hall, located just west across Roe Avenue. Geothermal energy was decided on to heat and cool the building.
The year 2011 came to a close with the renaming of 117th Street to Town Center Drive between Roe and Tomahawk Creek Parkway, further unifying the development of a “municipal corridor” link between City Hall and the Justice Center project. Construction on the justice center project began in 2012 and employees moved into their new home in November of 2013. Among the many features of the new Leawood Justice Center, which reunites the police department and municipal court in one area, are offices for all supervisory staff, expanded court work space, a larger workout facility, improved technology throughout the building and covered parking for police units.