*Editor’s note: This story has been edited to reflect the City of Joplin’s corrected start date for Chief Pearson.

JOPLIN, Mo. — The city of Joplin has its next police chief.

It’s Richard Pearson — who’s coming from Louisville, Kentucky. He had a long career with the Louisville Metro Police Department — was also a criminal justice professor — and is currently a captain with the Jefferson County Public Schools Police Department in Louisville.

He was in town last week with the three other candidates for the job — and talked about another change that’s coming soon.

“I have a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. I got my Master’s in Criminal Justice. And, knock on wood, I will be finishing my PhD hopefully by the end of this month, or the middle of next month, so, hopefully, if you see me again, and hopefully you will, I’ll be Dr. Pearson. So, say a prayer for me,” said Richard Pearson, Next JPD Chief.

The soon-to-be Dr. Pearson will be formally introduced at a press conference. He is slated to begin his new role on December 18th of this year. Pearson will be the first Black police chief for the City of Joplin.

The full release on Richard Pearson’s hiring from the City of Joplin can be found below:

Joplin City Manager Nick Edwards is pleased to announce that Rich Pearson has been named as the Chief of the Joplin Police Department.

Pearson is currently serving as Captain of the Jefferson County Public School System Police Department in Louisville, Ky. He served 22 years in the Louisville Metro Police Department and taught in the Criminal Justice Department of Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg, IN.

He holds a Master of Science and a bachelor’s degree in justice administration from the University of Louisville. He graduated from the FBI’s National Police Academy in Quantico, VA, and the Southern Police Institute in Louisville. He is currently finishing his Doctorate in Criminal Justice at Saint Leo University in St. Leo, FL.

“During his interview, it was easy to recognize that Chief Pearson has the experience addressing many of the issues that are present, or soon will be, in our community,” said Edwards. “Chief Pearson highlighted new ideas and new approaches to these issues which will help the Police Department improve service delivery. Additionally, Chief Pearson has dedicated himself to developing as a leader and attained some of the highest credentials available for law enforcement professionals.”

Pearson will start with the Joplin Police Department on December 18th, 2023*. He and his wife Gina will move to Joplin from Louisville in the upcoming months.

“My wife and I are excited about making Joplin our new home, and I am looking forward to meeting all my coworkers and members of the community,” said Pearson. “I’m sure that together we can continue to make Joplin a safe and wonderful place to live. I plan on meeting with all community stakeholders as soon as possible after I move to town to build relationships and start new friendships.”

Edwards also noted his deep appreciation for Assistant Chief Brian Lewis who is serving as the Interim Chief. “Brian has faithfully served this community during tragedy and difficult challenges. He is one of the most trustworthy leaders in the organization. Brian will continue to be a strength for the organization and a valuable asset for Chief Pearson. Together, this will be a strong team that, along with all the officers, will help ensure the safety of our community and improve our services for future generations.”