RCPD budget up by nearly $1 million for 2015

By Bryan Richardson

The law board unanimously approved publication of the 2015 Riley County Police Department budget during its meeting Monday.

A public hearing will be held at a later meeting before the final approval.

The 2015 proposed budget is $19.383 million, an increase of $969,500 from the 2014 approved budget.

A carryover of $453,639.93 from 2013 will bring the total increase needed down to $515,860.07.

Additions to this year’s proposal include two more dispatchers, an information tech, a 1.4 percent cost of living raise and the move of a crime analyst position to a contract.

The board also tabled a proposed change to RCPD’s special events policy.

Under that proposal, an event requiring more than two uniformed personnel for longer than one hour would require organizers to enter into a “Contract for Police Services” that may include reimbursement to the RCPD for all expenses.

Only fundraising events would be subject to reimbursement contracts with nonprofit or governmental events exempted.

City commissioner Rich Jankovich said there needs to be better legal direction on the policy to avoid challenges from for-profit organizations going forward.

“Fundamentally, I don’t have a problem with it, but if we’re going to exclude one but not another, we need to make sure we’re standing on some pretty good ground,” he said.

RCPD assistant director John Doehling said the change is being proposed due to the increased activities that require police presence — such as road races and similar events.

“We began to see more and more events that entailed longer periods of time, and involved more officers to safely carry out these events,” he said.

RCPD director Brad Schoen said the department already receives reimbursement for K-State football and basketball games and Country Stampede.

In another matter, Officer Steve Tucker spoke out against Senate Bill 436 during public comment.

If that controversial bill were approved, the position of RCPD director would be changed from an appointed job to an elected position.

A local group called Citizens Assuring Transparency hired registered lobbyist Kevin Barone of Topeka to introduce the measure.

Tucker said his experience as an elected sheriff in Arizona showed him that elections allowed law enforcement managers to figure out when they could relax and when they had to enforce things.

“I can tell you I was accountable to the people, but only accountable to them every four years,” he said.

Tucker said the community here has a constant voice through the law board, which holds the RCPD director accountable at all times.

“You are, for the most part, the sheriff for this community, and you’ve appointed a director to fulfill the needs of the community as they present them to you,” Tucker said.

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