Board members discuss RCPD health coverage

By Katherine Wartell

The topic of health insurance coverage for the Riley County Police Department dominated Monday’s Riley County Law Board meeting, with board members disagreeing on who should make the final determination.

The department is looking at several options for coverage in 2013, including the preferred option, the Kansas State Employee Health Benefits Plan, but Director Brad Schoen told the board that plan is contingent on an assessment that will take place by the state health plan board on Dec. 12.

While board members Barry Wilkerson, county attorney, and Dave Lewis, county commissioner, indicated that they would be satisfied leaving the decision to Schoen’s discretion so long as he stayed within budgetary constraints, Wynn Butler, city commissioner, argued that the matter required further discussion since the coverage constitutes 10 percent of the department’s budget.

During the discussion, Mayor Loren Pepperd inquired about the effect of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While officials said it will have an impact, it’s not clear how extensive.

Board members determined that a special meeting on the topic will be held during the week following Thanksgiving, during which time they’ll review the plans in more detail.

At Monday’s monthly meeting, the board also voted 4 to 2 to deny a grant for a nighttime seatbelt enforcement program through the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The funds would have provided overtime pay for patrol officers to enforce seatbelt use during the evening hours, but Butler, who voted against the grant, said he did not see the gain and argued that some drivers would see it as harassment. Wilkerson, Rich Jankovich, city commissioner, and John Matta, city commissioner, also voted against the grant.

Two department employees were recognized at Monday’s meeting for being the first law enforcement personnel in Kansas to obtain certification to operate in crime scenes with hazardous materials.

Detective Dustin Weiszbrod and Crime Scene Investigator Alan Riniker attended the National Certification Course for Emergency Responses to Hazardous Material Incidents, which is sponsored by FEMA, in October. The certification means both men will be able to enter and process crime scenes in Hazmat environments.

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