Mayor Names New Chief Of Police
LINCOLN — Assistant Chief Brian Key has been promoted to chief of police for the city of Lincoln and Chief Russell Morphis has moved into the assistant chief’s position, according to Mayor Rob Hulse.
The officers switched roles on Aug. 22.
Hulse said the decision to make the changes was “my decision and mine alone.” Lincoln City Council met in executive session the night before the changes became effective. Hulse said the Council discussed personnel issues during the executive session but did not take any action when it reconvened in public session.
Hulse said the changes came about because of conversations he’s had with Morphis during the last few months about Morphis’ plans for retirement. Hulse said Morphis wanted to make sure all transitions went smoothly.
“He was concerned about the state of the department,” Hulse said. “That’s a credit to him thinking about his department, his guys and the citizens of Lincoln.”
Morphis has worked for Lincoln Police Department for more than 30 years and was named police chief in December 2009. He has served 13 years as assistant police chief and school resource officer during his time at Lincoln.
Hulse said Morphis has not given a retirement date.
“Anytime you have someone in a department for 30 years who has progressed through the ranks, it’s very rare,” Hulse said. “We’ve very fortunate to have someone like Chief Morphis.”
He added, “I’ve worked with Chief Morphis close to 20 years. He’s always done a great job. I hate to see him contemplate retirement. When the time comes, we want to offer him our congratulations for his service.”
Hulse said Key is the “right choice and the only logical choice” to become Lincoln’s next chief of police.
“I was on the Council when Brian was hired by the city,” Hulse said. “I’ve watched him grow from
a young patrolman into the police officer he is today.”
Key has the training, leadership, knowledge and commitment to serve in the position, Hulse said.
Hulse and Morphis discussed the position and Hulse said Morphis was on on board with the decision.
“He agreed with me about Brian being promoted to chief. We felt like the time is right,” Hulse said.
Key has been with Lincoln police since Jan. 2, 2004. He has served as school resource officer and was promoted to assistant chief in July 2017. Prior to Lincoln, Key worked for about a year in dispatch for Washington County.
He said last week he is looking forward to the new position.
“I’m very appreciative of it,” Key said. “I feel like I’ve dedicated all of my adult life to Lincoln. I was raised here and I think everything I’ve done to this point will help me fill the position. I’ve worked hard to be the best officer I can be.”
Key said he plans to expand the department’s coverage to have more patrols in the city to help “keep an eye on things.”
He also said having Morphis as assistant chief will be an advantage because of Morphis’ law enforcement experience and will help the transition. Along with being assistant chief, Morphis also will move into the role of school resource officer.
The department has five officers — chief, assistant chief and three patrol officers — and Key supports the city’s initiative to seek a .75-percent sales tax that would be used to hire additional police officers. If the sales tax passes, Key said he hopes to hire two more officers.
“Hopefully, we can get more officers in place and provide better coverage and make our community safer,” Key said.
Key is a graduate of Lincoln High. He and his wife have two children who attend Lincoln schools.
Brian Key has been promoted to Lincoln police chief.