City Police Chief and FBI Director
Kelley was destined to enter law enforcement.
He was nicknamed ‘Chief’ in Northeast High School
where he batted .300 on the baseball team. He
received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the
University of Kansas and then studied law at
the University of Kansas City. After college
he joined the FBI. In 1943 he enlisted in the
U.S. Navy and served in the South Pacific. He
returned to the FBI after the war and became
an administrator handling criminal cases in
ten cities across the country.
1961 Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy recommended
Kelley to take over as police chief of Kansas
City. He pioneered the use of computers to trace
criminals, initiated using a helicopter to patrol
the city, created the metro squad to deal with
major crimes, recruited and promoted black policemen,
and founded the Office of Citizen Complaints.
Kansas City’s police department became a national
model. He served as police chief for 12 years,
from 1961 to 1973.
it was discovered that L. Patrick Gray, director
of the FBI, had destroyed information pertinent
to the Watergate investigation, Gray resigned.
A temporary director was named while a search
was conducted for someone to fill that post.
Twenty-seven candidates were considered. On
June 7, 1973, President Richard Nixon chose
Clarence Kelley. At this time, when the Watergate
scandal prompted distrust, Kelley told the Senate
Judiciary Committee, "I’ve never bowed to political
pressure and I don’t mean to start now." He
was quickly approved and lived up to his reputation
as an innovator. When Jimmy Carter became President,
Kelley was replaced as FBI director. He returned
to Kansas City and founded an investigation
and security organization, employing many former
Library and Resource Center at Northeast High
School is named after Kelley.