On summer evenings, Derek McCollum made the 40-minute commute with his uncle from his hometown of Linwood, Kan. (population 430) up to the Broadway and Southwest Boulevards area.
McCollum’s uncle was starting the night shift while his father, a union printer, was finishing the day shift. McCollum would hop in, “do some things around town with Dad,” and go home.
He never knew, never imagined, that he would one day return to Kansas City to serve as Deputy Chief of the KCPD.
“My parents would be happy to see me now,” McCollum said. “My father saw the value of the police. I think he’s looking down proudly. He loved it.
Prior to starting the police academy on September 19, 1994, McCollum served three years as a corrections officer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. However, it wasn’t about hiring MPs and wanting to do something new and different every day, McCollum came to the KCPD.
On September 18, 1996, nearly two years into the police academy, McCollum and his partner pursued a suspect in a drug deal. McCollum confronted the suspect in the middle of the street in the middle of the night. But the suspect drew a pistol and shot McCollum in the left armpit. McCollum suffered nerve damage and can still feel pain today with the changes in the weather. His partner, meanwhile, was shot, his femur shattered and his femoral artery severed. That partner is still with the KCPD today in a civilian role.
McCollum never wavered and never wanted to change his profession. Instead, he was uplifted and inspired by the support he received from surrounding law enforcement and the community.
“I listened to the 911 calls that were recorded,” McCollum recalled. “The community was shouting for help, that there was an officer shot on the street. As soon as I got back to work and in my car, I passed by those houses and thanked those people. I could hear their concern and care in their voices. It was reassuring that I have a higher purpose.
For 28 years, McCollum served the KCPD, holding a variety of positions, including as a major in the tax division. This budgetary expertise is invaluable in his new position as deputy head of the Office of Executive Services which oversees department-wide financial matters. They include the tax division, the IT department, and the fleet and buildings operations units.
“Deputy Chief McCollum is a versatile commander who leads with integrity,” said Chief Stacey Graves. “McCollum values relationships and has a wide range of experience which includes being the Major and Captain of the Tax Division, making him a great choice to lead the Executive Services Bureau.”
On tap are possible additions, such as hiring more programmers, and some tweaks as well.
“I think there are positions here that can be filled by civilians,” McCollum explained. “This would open up opportunities for professional staff to develop a career path and we could use law enforcement for what they were hired to do.”
In his spare time, McCollum finds peace on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and joy at Graceland. He has traveled to 36 states on his motorcycle, calling racing his therapy. Last year he rode his Harley along the East Coast visiting Civil War battlefields.
As for Elvis, McCollum has been in love with the King of Rock & Roll forever. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was his wedding song.
“I’ve been to Graceland seven times,” McCollum pointed out. “My wife is tired of going, so I took my kids separately.”
McCollum is happily married, 25 and counting, with two daughters. He makes it abundantly clear that he’s proud of them. A proud father, just like his father.