Politics & Government

Barry Grissom retiring as U.S. attorney for Kansas

Barry Grissom, U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas, has announced he is stepping down from the office.
Barry Grissom, U.S. attorney for the District of Kansas, has announced he is stepping down from the office. File photo

Barry Grissom announced Monday that he’s stepping down as U.S. attorney for Kansas to return to private practice in Kansas City.

Grissom, 62, would not name the law firm that he will join, citing Justice Department policy, and downplayed speculation that he would immediately seek public office.

“I don’t want to say never,” Grissom said. “If there came a time I decided to test the waters, it would certainly be for the Senate seat that Sen. (Pat) Roberts holds now.”

His resignation is effective Friday. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Beall will serve as acting U.S. attorney.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Grissom has made Kansas and the United States “a safer and more just place,” underlining how he built relations between state and local law enforcement and upheld civil rights laws.

“From establishing an innovative working group on human trafficking to lending his sound advice as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Council, Barry has served with energy, with commitment, and with steadfast devotion to our highest ideals,” Lynch said in a news release.

Grissom was nominated by President Obama in 2010 and has made civil rights enforcement and community outreach top priorities during his tenure. He founded the annual Kansas Civil Rights Symposium, which brings together law enforcement and civil rights advocates, and he helped to establish a human trafficking working group.

“One of the things I take great pride in is that we have left the Ivy Tower, and we have gone out and worked closely with local and state law enforcement,” Grissom said. “We have reached out to different communities to find out their thoughts on law enforcement. We have made a concerted effort to make sure people can worship as they see fit without fear of being intimidated.”

He estimated he has traveled 70,000 miles and spoken to more than 13,000 people during his tenure.

“I think we have put a face on the federal government and demonstrated to people … we truly are there to protect them and to defend their civil liberties,” Grissom said.

Under his leadership, Kansas has consistently been among the leading states in prosecutions for felony possession of firearms. His office also focused on prosecuting employers who knowingly hired immigrants who live unlawfully in the United States.

Forfeitures during his tenure have returned $73 million to local and state law enforcement agencies and the federal treasury.