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Medal Of Valor Recipient Leads Executive Services Bureau

Publish Date 01/25/2023
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Summer evenings, Derek McCollum would take the 40-minute ride with his uncle from his hometown of Linwood, Kan. (population 430) to the area of Broadway and Southwest Boulevards.

McCollum’s uncle was starting the night shift while his dad, a union printer, was finishing his day shift. McCollum would hop in, “do a few things around town with dad,” and go back home.

He never knew – never imagined – he’d one day come back to Kansas City and serve as a Deputy Chief for KCPD.

“My parents would be tickled to see me now,” McCollum said. “My dad saw the value in policing. I think he’s looking down proud. He loved it.”

Before beginning the police academy on Sep. 19, 1994, McCollum served as a corrections officer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for three years. It wasn't hiring deputies, however, and wanting to do something new and different every day, McCollum came to KCPD.

On Sep. 18, 1996, nearly two years to the day of beginning the police academy, McCollum and his partner chased after a suspect in a drug deal. McCollum tackled the suspect in the middle of the street, in the middle of the night. But the suspect produced a gun and shot McCollum in his left armpit. McCollum suffered nerve damage and can still feel pain today with changes in the weather. His partner, meanwhile, was shot, his femur shattered, and his femoral artery severed. That partner is still with KCPD today in a civilian role.

McCollum never wavered and never wanted to change professions. Instead, he was uplifted and inspired by the support he received from surrounding law enforcement agencies and the community.

“I listened to the 911 calls that were recorded,” McCollum recalled. “The community was screaming for help, that there was an officer in the street shot. As soon as I was back at work and in the car, I went by those houses and thanked those people. I could hear their concern and the care in their voices. It was reassuring that I have a higher purpose.”

For 28 years, McCollum has served at KCPD, working a variety of assignments, which includes the role of Major over the Fiscal Division. This budgetary expertise is invaluable in his new position as Deputy Chief of the Executive Services Bureau which oversees department-wide money matters. They include the Fiscal Division, the IT department, and the Fleet and Building 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 that includes being the major and captain in the Fiscal Division, making him a great choice to lead the Executive Services Bureau.”

On tap are possible additions, such as hiring more programmers and some changes too.

“I think there are positions here that can be filled by civilians,” McCollum explained. “This would open opportunities for professional staff to develop a career path, and we could utilize law enforcement for what they were hired to do.”

In his free time, McCollum finds peace on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle and joy at Graceland. He’s traveled to 36 states on his motorcycle, calling the rides his therapy. Last year, he rode his Harley around the East Coast visiting civil war battlefields.

As for Elvis, McCollum has been enamored with the King of Rock & Roll for as long as he can remember. “Can’t Help Falling In Love” was his wedding song.

“I’ve been to Graceland seven times,” McCollum pointed out. “My wife’s tired of going so I’ve taken my kids separately.”

McCollum is happily married, 25 years and counting, with two daughters. He makes it abundantly clear he’s proud of them. A proud dad, just like his father.