1st RCPD citizen forum draws few attendees

By Tim Weideman

Rich Jankovich is hopeful that holding forums that are more relaxed than the monthly Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board meetings will result in more opportunities for citizens and the board to communicate.

On Wednesday, Jankovich, fellow board member Robert Boyd and Riley County Police Department Citizen Advisory Board Chairman Corey Leavell met with a handful of residents in the Groesbeck Meeting Room at the Manhattan Public Library for the first of those forums.

Manhattan residents Randi Dale and Linda Gibbs took advantage of the forum to voice their concerns about RCPD patrol officers and other emergency responders allegedly chasing traffic violators or responding to other incidents without considering other drivers.

“We have seen a lot of speeding of differing police cars chasing (vehicles),” Dale said.

Dale mentioned a specific incident that occurred about this time last year while she was driving on Tuttle Creek Boulevard.

She said a patrol vehicle almost hit her after it drove in front of her from the median to chase a speeding car.

Gibbs said she’s noticed patrol and emergency vehicles speeding on Casement Road in the area around Northview Elementary School.

“They are going so fast that you can look left, look right, look back left and they are right on you,” she said.

Jankovich, who also is a Manhattan city commissioner, responded that reports of officers traveling too fast have come up before in the law board’s executive sessions, during which they discuss disciplinary action.

“I can assure you that (RCPD Director Brad Schoen) does not take that lightly,” he said, later adding that the board hears of officers speeding about once a year.

Boyd, also the Riley County Commission chairman, added that the citizens would be pleased with the disciplinary action taken in those cases and that the officers are almost always contrite.

“They accept whatever punishment or consequence that comes from their actions because they want to be better,” he said.

In a separate matter, Dale asked if RCPD could train its officers more in handling situations involving people who “see the world differently” or don’t always respond well when confronted by police.

Leavell said Pawnee Mental Health Services recently indicated it would be helping the department in that area.

“They’re going to provide more training so the police officers can recognize what’s going on,” he said.

As the meeting wrapped up, Jankovich explained that he, Boyd and Leavell would relay the comments received to the law board and to RCPD administrators. He added that similar forums will be held in the future.

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