UMKC scholarship established to honor late KCPD Chief and FBI director

Esmie Tseng

Senior Sarah Bell is the first recipient of a UMKC scholarship established in honor of Clarence M. Kelley, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Kansas City Police Department.

Bell, a criminal justice and criminology major, qualified for the scholarship because of her academic standing, interest in law enforcement and experience with the criminal justice system and victim services as an intern with the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.

Clarence M. Kelley, a Kansas City native who lived in the area at the time of his death in 1997, graduated from UMKC with a law degree in 1940.  He worked as an F.B.I. agent from 1940 until 1961 before he was Chief of the Kansas City police force until 1973.

He was appointed head of the F.B.I. by then-President Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.  This was a trying time for the bureau, as it was recovering its reputation since one of its Acting Directors, Patrick Gray III, had destroyed documents out of orders from the White House.

Kelley was widely recognized for shifting the F.B.I.’s priorities away from its steadfast focus on Communism during Hoover’s reign, for addressing corruption while serving as the Kansas City Chief of Police and for his professionalism and leadership during his four decades of public service.

After his retirement from the FBI, Kelley started his own private security firm specializing in white collar crime, according to The New York Times.

The Clarence M. Kelley Scholarship was established “for the education and preparation of tomorrow’s law enforcement and correctional leaders,” Professor Ken Novak of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology told UMKC Today.

Bell’s grandfather, Aaron W. Bell Sr., served many years in law enforcement, as well, including as Police Chief in Maize, Kan.