RCPD says it won’t change alcohol policy

By Tim Weideman

The Riley County Police Department’s policy on how it handles alcohol violation citations isn’t going to change, officials said Monday.

During a Riley County Law Enforcement Agency Board meeting, RCPD Assistant Director John Doehling said the department reviewed its policy as the board had requested in a special meeting on May 1.

The special meeting was held to discuss concerns raised by Rusty Wilson, owner of Kite’s Grille and Bar and Rusty’s Mexican Grill (formerly Last Chance). Wilson had been upset over how the department and its officers enforced alcohol violations, specifically at his bars.

After performing an internal review, department officials determined no changes to the policy were warranted.

Whether citations are written in the first place still will be up to the investigating officer, Doehling said.

“We don’t think there’s any meaning for any change to current policy with regard to discretion,” Doehling said. “Officers maintain that discretion.”

One of Wilson’s specific concerns was how the department used its discretion to decide whether alcohol violation reports were forwarded to Kansas Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) for possible disciplinary action.

As for whether a violation is sent to ABC, Doehling explained the department’s policy always has been for supervisors to review each situation before making a determination. In most cases, bars that have made an effort to prevent violations from occurring won’t be reported.

“I think it’s appreciated by the business owners that are involved in this that there is some discretion used,” said Rich Jankovich, a member of the law board and city commission. “Unfortunately, (previous discussions) kind of turned against the idea of that, and so our alternative is there is no discretion, so they all go (to ABC). And that’s not, I don’t think, what anybody wants.”

Doehling said it would be unfair to forward every case to ABC.

“It’s not even appropriate that charges be referred to the state for every liquor violation that occurs down there because some of the establishments — the bars — they’ve done everything they could possibly do and they still are fooled by a fake ID or something else,” he said. “We’re not in the habit of forwarding those to the state to attempt to punish a bar for something that they had no control over. That’s never been the way we do business.”

Though RCPD enforcement policy won’t change, the department will publish semiannual reports for the law board to review. The reports will include alcohol violation statistics that show “the geographic location, the breakdown of offenses and the general overview of the enforcement activities within Aggieville proper,” Doehling said.

Also, Jankovich is working on coordinating “open door meetings” with the RCPD Community Advisory Board (CAB), during which the law board could relay citizen input on the matter to the department.

“I am meeting Thursday with one of the reps from the CAB to establish some parameters and timing,” he said.

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