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Police to spread Patty’s Day presence

By Katherine Wartell

Riley County Police Department officials told law board members Tuesday there will be an increased police presence in the neighborhoods of Aggieville during Fake Patty’s Day. The stepup is in response to numerous complaints of drunk and disorderly behavior reported each year.

Though city commissioners have discussed in recent weeks an attempt to make Fake Patty’s a controlled festival, commissioners have not yet determined how the event will be handled this year.

Director Brad Schoen said it is likely that the department will not handle the day significantly differently from the past, other than for the increased patrol in surrounding neighborhoods.  Jeff Koenig, owner of Big Poppi’s Bicycle Co., who lives near Aggieville, said mayhem occurs in those areas each year.

Koenig implored the board to act, suggesting multiple area police forces be employed.

He said that in 2011, a drunk woman passed out on his porch and a drunk man tried to break into his home. Though he said he didn’t fault the RCPD, he said their presence is not sufficient, and that Manhattan citizens should be willing to foot the bill for even more police presence to ensure their safety.

Law Board member Barry Wilkerson sympathized with Koenig and said the responsibility of the government is to keep the community safe. But Schoen said officials would need to be willing to take on the political heat that would result from such actions.

Tim Fitzgerald, president of the Aggieville Business Association, told the board that the real troublemakers might be visitors who come in for the celebration but who have no stake in the community. He said the ABA is trying to manage “the growing beast.”

In prior meetings, Law Board members have suggested the primary responsibility for coordinating the event was the ABA’s. At Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Jim Sherow said the ABA has been given the opportunity to get its act together. While he said he prefers the solution come from them, if it doesn’t, then the city will take action.

Also at Tuesday’s law board meeting, board member Loren Pepperd expressed concern for a recent spate of murders in Riley County and suggested that a gang taskforce might be beneficial.

Schoen acknowledged that in the last three years, there have been 12 homicides, but he said, police are not finding any indication of significant gang activity. He said the homicides are resulting from a variety of reasons.

Board members also heard from Carroll Hess, a member of the Pawnee Mental Health Board, about the need for officers to receive crisis intervention training for how to deal with the mentally ill. He said it is important that mentally ill citizens are given the care they need and not just put into the jail system. Schoen said he is supportive of the training but the issue is one of funding.

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