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Central Graduate Named Gardner Chief of Police


Gardner, KS – The governing body appointed James Belcher as chief of the Gardner Police Department during the July 1 city council meeting.

Belcher has been a member of the department for 21 years, first serving as a public safety officer. Throughout his tenure, he climbed the ranks, including serving as a lieutenant, administration captain and patrol captain. In those roles, Belcher oversaw the investigation division, training, budget, contract management, scheduling, customer service functions and patrol services.

Belcher also served as the interim police chief for eight months in 2014 and 2015 and for two months in 2019. “Captain Belcher has served honorably as interim police chief and has demonstrated through his leadership, integrity and judgment that he is well-prepared to assume the role on a full-time basis and to lead the police department forward,” said City Administrator Jim Pruetting.

Belcher holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Central Christian College of Kansas. In 2013, he received the Award for Valor from the Kansas City Metropolitan Chiefs and Sherriff’s Association.

One of his online instructors at CCCK, Col. Tom Greco, stated that, “Chief Belcher was an outstanding student. His written work and participation in the class were  exceptional. Chief Belcher consistently exceeded the College’s  standards and expectations. His leadership prowess was clearly evident in all he accomplished. I am personally honored to have been one of his faculty leads.”  

Another CCCK instructor, Dr. Susan Nitch, congratulated Belcher, saying, "Chief Jay Belcher, known affectionately in class as 'JB', was an outstanding student and a natural leader in discussion. Always going the extra mile in class, he was an inspiration to his fellow students, and distinguished himself as the voice of reason.  On a personal level, Chief Belcher showed true concern and caring for those around him, and always made the effort to help those who were going through difficult times. On behalf of CCCK, congratulations on achieving the position of Chief, JB!

“I am honored to serve as the new police chief for the Gardner community, my home of 21 years,” said Belcher. “We have a wonderful team serving in our police department, and it is a privilege to continue to work alongside them as we successfully continue our mission to protect and serve.”

Belcher replaces former Police Chief Jim Pruetting who retired in April after 35 years in law enforcement to serve as Gardner’s new city administrator. Belcher’s permanent move to the police chief role is effective immediately.

(Original news release content by


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