By Paul Thompson
When Captain Lionel Colón begins his new job in KCPD’s Media Unit on January 14, he’ll bring 20 years of experience on the force with him. That experience includes a connection with the Historic Northeast; Colón was a young cop when he worked at the Northeast CAN (Community Action Network) Center on Independence Avenue.
“Initially I was a field officer in the East Patrol Division, when it was at 27th and Van Brunt,” Colón said. “From there I joined the Community Action Network, and I was assigned to the Northeast portion of East Patrol Division.”
The veteran officer maintains fond memories from his tenure in the Northeast. He described it as an exciting time for him as he learned the ropes from an experienced partner.
“It’s a unique area. A lot of community members are really involved with improving the area,” Colón remembers. “It had a certain element of illegal activity as well, so it was a great place for me to actually get my feet wet and really learn to develop my skills as a younger officer. I was partnered with a tenured officer, so he kept me in line and I kind of kept him young. It was a good time.”
Colón said that lessons he learned in the Historic Northeast have stuck with him throughout his career.
“I learned to control my tongue, because that’s usually where most conflicts arise; with a miscommunication between what I’m trying to communicate and what people are hearing,” he said. “So, learning to filter certain things a certain way so that the message is clear.”
Colón said that he still occasionally brings his family down to the Avenue to shop or grab a bite to eat.
“Sometimes I take my wife and the kids down there on a Sunday afternoon or something like that to grab something to eat,” Colón said. “There’s some things down there you can get there, and nowhere else in the city.”
Since his time at Northeast CAN, Colón went to Internal Affairs as a detective, then Assault Squad as a detective. When Colón got promoted to Sergeant, he went back to East Zone to work the evening shift. He later spent four years in the Special Victim’s Unit, and then another four years working Sex Crimes. After being promoted to Captain, Colón went through the mentoring program, spent time at South Patrol Division, and then returned for stints at the Special Victim’s Unit and Internal Affairs.
When asked what compelled him to take the job in the Media Unit, Colón displayed a sense of humor about the move.
“What compelled me?” Colón asked with a smile. “A telephone call from the Chief saying, ‘Congratulations, on January 14 you’re being transferred.”
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Colón added. “It’s an area that I’m not really that experienced in. I’ve done some amount of public speaking – especially in Special Victim’s Unit; conferences, public engagement – but this is a different element.”
KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith discussed the shake-up on Friday, January 5. The move, he said, is beneficial on multiple fronts. One bonus is that it allows current Media Unit Captain Stacey Graves to gain valuable experience in her new position, serving as a watch commander at Central Patrol Division.
“She’s done a phenomenal job, and it’s time for her to get some field assignments as she progresses through her career,” Smith said.
Smith is also excited about the skills that Colón can bring to the Media Unit once he arrives on January 14.
“Lionel Colón’s a great replacement,” Smith said. “He has a great reputation on this job, and he has a positive attitude. That’s the kind of message I want to send to the community.”