Riley County Police Director Brad Schoen isn’t buying Rusty Wilson’s story that something has changed concerning how much attention police place on enforcing alcohol laws at Wilson’s bars.
At the last month’s Riley County Law Board meeting (March 22), Wilson — owner of Kite’s Grille and Bar and Rusty’s in Aggieville — publicly voiced his belief that his bars have been unfairly scrutinized by the RCPD.
On Monday, Schoen told the law board — at its first meeting since the accusations in March — that Wilson has been suggesting, including in an article published Sunday in The Mercury, that police pressure on his bars had been altered.
“We haven’t changed anything,” he said. “We haven’t done any different. The rules are still in place, being enforced the way they were.
“And to the extent that (article) created an impression that any individual board member had pressured me to change things — that has not happened. I haven’t had a conversation like that with any board member.”
Schoen said he and Wilson met recently for a fairly lengthy discussion about several issues related to Wilson’s claims of intimidation and improprieties by the RCPD.
“I’m not going to paint the picture that it was all roses and puppy dog tails,” Schoen said. “We disagreed on some things. However, we did have some discussions.”
WILSON, ON the other hand, told the law board he’s noticed a change for the better. Specifically, he mentioned the way his establishments have been monitored by police since he first took his complaints to the board.
“Since March 22, it’s been night and day,” Wilson said. “The one individual officer (Ryan Doehling, whom Wilson named in his original discussion with the board) was spending an hour and 11 minutes in my place a week.
“Since March 22 to last Saturday, the total time we’ve seen a present police officer was an hour for a whole month.”
Schoen spent a chunk of Monday’s meeting countering Wilson’s complaints, including the one lodged against the department last month.
One of those issues brought an apology from Wilson.
AT THE March meeting, Wilson reported to a couple law board members that while in the Westloop district, he witnessed a person he believed to be RCPD Sgt. Brad Ingalls – while off duty – taking pictures of his vehicle’s license tag, which he said was harassment.
Schoen said the department conducted an internal affairs investigation, interviewing Ingalls and Ingalls’ wife – as well as seizing both Ingalls’ private and business cell phones.
“When Sgt. Ingalls heard this accusation, he immediately requested a full investigation and asked that, at the conclusion of the investigation, that the results be aired publicly, as were the accusations,” he said
Ingalls, who was present Monday, denied being in Westloop at all on the day in question, Schoen said.
Ingalls said he was in Wamego, where he lives, all day with his family.
Schoen said Ingalls’ wife, who typically wouldn’t have been interviewed per department policy but agreed because of the nature of the accusations, backed up her husband.
WITH THE interviews completed, the investigation moved to the phones, which Schoen said showed no sign of any photos – erased or not – having ever been taken.
“Given the totality of the information, I decided that this particular complaint was unfounded,” he said. “That’s a term that has a particular and specific meaning in the Police Department. It does not mean that we were unable to prove the claim. It means that it didn’t happen.”
Schoen said Wilson told the department’s investigator he could have been mistaken on who he saw take the picture.
“If he does believe that there is some other PD employee, I have an organizational chart on the back door of my office,” Schoen said. “It has a photograph of everybody in the police department. He’s more than welcome to come down and look at that any time. We can do this again to try to figure out if, in fact, it did occur and, if so, who it might have been.”
WILSON STUCK to his story Monday, but did apologize to Ingalls and his wife for what he said was a case of mistaken identity.
“Like I said, I will be the first to look at you and apologize to you and your family,” he said while looking at Ingalls,” Wilson said. “I made a mistake in who I saw.”
Wilson chalked up the mistake to paranoia induced by feeling he’s always looking over his shoulder.
Schoen also challenged Wilson to provide a video he claims shows Ryan Doehling allegedly framing underage girls by placing drinks in front of them.
“It’s kind of like a yeti,” Schoen said. “Everybody’s heard about it, but nobody’s seen it. And so, I would like to see that video now.”
Schoen said he doesn’t “know what to think, quite honestly,” about Wilson’s complaints, alleging that they often lack enough information to uncover the facts.
WILSON AGAIN said he’d provide the video and other statements to board members in private, but not to board member and County Attorney Barry Wilkerson.
“I will give them to someone here,” he said. “I can’t give them to Mr. Wilkerson because has a personal relationship with him (Schoen). I’d gladly give it to you guys (the other board members).”
Schoen and Wilkerson then appeared to exchange smirks, which sparked Wilson’s anger.
He accused Schoen of laughing at him, but RCPD Assistant Director John Doeling (Ryan Doehling’s father) said, no, he was the one laughing at Wilson.
“You’re laughing at me? Did you hear that?” Wilson asked the board. “He just said he was laughing at me.
“This isn’t real. This is being treated like a joke.”
WILKERSON again offered to look at Wilson’s documents. But Wilson again declined to hand them to him, to which Wilkerson took offense.
“I’m the last person that you question my integrity, Mr. Wilson,” Wilkerson said.
Earlier in the meeting – before the fireworks – Wilson said, as a business owner, he simply wants some help, not pressure, from the department in preventing kids with fake IDs from entering or staying in his bar.
Recognizing the fake IDs is the first challenge bar owners face, Wilson said.
“We don’t have any formal training,” he said. “That’s not available. There’s no classes they send us to. You can buy books on the Internet. You’re really self-taught.
“Part of it is we don’t know how to correct the problem,” Wilson said. “If this person did just sneak in, I need to know how.
“If she did show a fake ID and it’s on her, we need to find it. If she’s let in by the door man who thought he’s – excuse me – gonna get lucky tonight, I need to find out that.”
BUT OTHER Aggieville bar owners face the same challenges as Wilson and don’t seem to have the same gripes over officers’ enforcement of laws, claim the police.
Brett Allred, owner of several establishments including Johnny Kaw’s, said he was asked to come to the meeting and share his experience. Allred said he strives to build trust with police.
“We’re working with Riley County police to prove that we are self-policing,” he said.
Wilson said he feels his bars are targeted more than others, though. He said he had documents to prove it, which he offered to share with board members privately.
One of the documents apparently is signed by a former police officer claiming Rusty’s was targeted to see if they could catch enough fake ID violations to shut it down.
“She’ll say that under oath anywhere it needs to be said,” Wilson said.
The other bar owners aren’t dealing with that type of pressure, Wilson said.
HE HAS previously argued that comparisons are unfair because of his profile (especially at Kite’s) and that his businesses have a much larger volume of customers than most other establishments.
“That’s why I feel targeted and maybe others don’t,” Wilson said. “They’re coming in here telling (the board) how everything’s great, and I’m leery of everything that’s been going on – so I don’t know what to do.”
But Schoen presented information he had gathered about violations dating back to 2010 at Kite’s and Rusty’s, even though Wilson contested he didn’t own Rusty’s in 2010 – when it was still called Last Chance.
“When you look at how Kite’s stacks up – Kite’s and Chance – stack up against the rest of the establishments down there (Aggieville), they have more citizen-generated calls for service than anybody, they have more ‘Part One crime’ than anybody, they have more violent crime than anybody,” he said.
“They are third in the number of citations issued within the establishment. They do not lead the pack. They are tied for last in regards to self-policing of MIPs (minor in possession of alcohol)…and they are first in reports referred to ABC.”
Wilson said he wanted to see new statistics that reflected when he took over Last Chance in August 2012 and renamed it Rusty’s.
The board’s is expected to address the topic at next month’s meeting.