Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté, the first African-American to lead the department, will announce next week he plans to retire on May 20 after more than 30 years in law enforcement, reports the Kansas City Star. Forté, 55, alerted leaders of the Missouri city’s police board about his decision Tuesday night. He apparently plans to attend law school, a longtime goal. Forté told the Star, “Entirely my decision. It just feels right.”
City and community leaders were stunned — and saddened. “My heart sunk upon hearing this news,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker tweeted. Kansas City Mayor Sly James called Forte’s leadership “very valuable to our city.” He was appointed as the department’s 44th police chief on Oct. 12, 2011. He has been credited for his calming and consistent presence in keeping his city’s peace while other cities experienced civil unrest following fatal police shootings involving African-Americans. Police union officials have sharply criticized Forté for comments he had made in support of those protesting police shootings.