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Police chief reflects on first year in GB
Steve Haulmark at Hope for Our City
Great Bend Police Chief Steve Haulmark visits with a volunteer at last year’s Hope for Our City event at Veterans Park. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

As Police Chief Steve Haulmark looks back on his first year in Great Bend, he sees a lot to be proud of with the department he heads.

Emma Mooney, announced last Monday as the newest officer with the GBPD, marks the sixth officer Haulmark has hired in his tenure, which began Jan. 5, 2021. He spoke highly of the Hoisington native, describing her as “sharp” and passionate about a career in law enforcement.

Of the six hires on his watch, he said, one has completed training and is working on his own, “He is doing great.”

Another will graduate from the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center in a couple of weeks, and the others are all in various stages of training.

With the six hires Haulmark has made in his tenure, he manages a staff of 30 people. Haulmark is proud of the increasing diversity of that staff and how it reflects the community the department serves.

“For being a small town, we have a pretty good diversity across the board, and that’s important, because we have diversity in the community, and we need to (reflect that).”

For example, the staff recently hired a bilingual staff member, and Haulmark sees that as a chance to bridge the gap between the city and its growing Hispanic community.

Building more positive connections between his staff and the community in ways like this has been a primary goal of Haulmark’s since taking the job last January. Building trust through growing positive relationships is a crucial part of being able to serve the community effectively, he said.

“The guys and girls here are doing good work all the time, and we need to share that,” Haulmark said. “People need to see the police as more than just showing up because they’re having a bad day.”

For Haulmark, that also means giving his officers more chances to interact with community members in a positive light. He seeks to attend community events as much as he can and encourages his officers to do the same. He said he also tries to get out as much as he can and just have conversations and interact with businesses and community members.

Police officers nowadays have to wear a lot of different hats in the communities they serve, he said. And connecting with the community is a large part of that.

“I want to give (my officers) an opportunity to interact with the community more frequently,” Haulmark said. “Those relationships are an important thing to have.”

Also, with the passage of sales tax issues supporting a new police station and for improvements in retirement plans for the community’s first responders, Haulmark said he is excited for the department’s future. 

He said it is also another tangible demonstration of a community that has been extremely supportive of him and his officers.

Especially coming from a larger community in Kansas City, he’s been grateful for the change of pace that life in a smaller community has brought.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” Haulmark said. “I’ve had a lot of people actually reach out to me and be inclusive with things, inviting me to things, and that they didn’t have to, and it’s been really nice.”