Kroells to succeed McCoy as WHPS director

McCoy to retire after 30 years

Ray McCoy
Ray McCoy

By Amanda Schwarze

The Pioneer

A familiar face will lead the West Hennepin Public Safety Department after current director Ray McCoy retires at the end of April. WHPS serves both Independence and Maple Plain.

The WHPS Police Commission appointed Sgt. Gary Kroells as the next director of the department at its March 18 meeting. Kroells is currently second in command at WHPS behind McCoy.

According to a press release on the appointment, commissioners decided to look at promoting an internal candidate rather than executing a large-scale search for a new director shortly after McCoy notified the board of his intent to retire. Commissioners decided they were satisfied with WHPS and found that it provides “exemplary” services to the cities of Maple Plain and Independence.

Gary Kroells
Gary Kroells

The commissioners interviewed Kroells and decided he was the best person for the job.

“One of the greatest compliments a leader can be given is to appoint the next person in command to take over as director,” McCoy said. “This succession of planning started approximately three years ago. It has been my pleasure working towards this goal with Sgt. Kroells. I look forward to a bright future for WHPS under his leadership.”

Kroells started working at the department Oct. 1, 1996. He was promoted to sergeant in 2005. During his time at WHPS, Kroells has served 10 years as the DARE officer for Delano Public Schools and five years as a member of the Lake Minnetonka SWAT team. Since 2005, he has served as second in command at the department.

Kroells will be the fourth director of public safety for WHPS since it was formed in 1979. The first director was James Franklin, followed by Larry Bailey and McCoy.

McCoy started with WHPS as a charter member of the reserve officer unit in 1980. He was a reserve officer until 1983, when he was hired by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and then hired as a WHPS police officer in 1984. During his time at the department, McCoy served on numerous boards and task forces, including 14 years on the committee board for the Hennepin County Justice Integration. The committee worked to integrate all justice partners so they could freely share information and reduce redundancies.

McCoy, an Independence resident, said that he is looking forward to the new challenges and opportunities that are ahead of him. He also said that he is “extremely excited” for Kroells and that he looks forward to being a “civilian and supporting the great local police department.”

A retirement open house will be held for McCoy April 29 in the Independence City Council chambers at City Hall, 1920 County Road 90. The event will run from 4:30-7:30 p.m. with a program beginning at 6 p.m. Cake and coffee will be served.

Contact Amanda Schwarze at [email protected]