Manhattan, Riley County and Pottawatomie County officials on Thursday disagreed who should pay for Riley County Police Department operations in Pottawatomie County.
The debate started with a discussion of statistics provided by Dennis Butler, RCPD director, at a joint meeting.
The Riley County Police Department arrested 20 people for misdemeanors on the Pottawatomie County side of Manhattan over the course of this year, from Jan. 1 up until Nov. 12.
“It doesn’t matter where the person is from, it matters where the crime was committed,” Butler said. “If the crime was committed in the jurisdiction that we’re responsible for policing, then we’re responsible for all the costs associated with that arrest.”
RCPD arrested six people for felonies and issued 44 notices to appear in Pottawatomie County as well during that same period.
Riley County commissioners raised concerns about finances and policing on the Pottawatomie County side of Manhattan.
Commissioners for the city of Manhattan and Riley County were divided on which entity pays portions of the RCPD budget.
Riley County pays 20% of the budget, which benefits Pottawatomie County in some ways, said Riley County commissioner Marvin Rodriguez. The city of Manhattan pays the other 80% of the budget, said city manager Ron Fehr.
“But it’s not efficient for the county to do that,” Rodriguez said. “This is what I’m getting at. We’re putting funds in there that are being used in another county.”
Commissioner Wynn Butler said he doesn’t see this necessarily as a legal problem because RCPD is designed as a city police department, and said the city of Manhattan is actually doing the financing for Pottawatomie County, not Riley County.
“You’re not financing Pottawatomie County,” Wynn Butler said to Rodriguez. “It’s the city that’s doing the financing.”
Wynn Butler said he calculated that taxpayers in Manhattan cover about 96% of the financing for RCPD because they pay Riley County taxes as well.
Dennis Butler informed officials that RCPD does patrol on the Pottawatomie side of Manhattan at times as the city expands east. He said Pottawatomie County also polices some parts of Manhattan as well.
“They’re not completely divorced from policing that part of the county,” Dennis Butler said.
Pottawatomie County commissioner Dee McKee said she wants everyone to work together and understand what’s going on the Pottawatomie side.
“I just want the conversation to be fair and that you understand what happens on our side,” McKee said.
Wynn Butler said an “easy fix” is that Riley County pays 100% of the RCPD budget and then the city of Manhattan pays for the operations on the Pottawatomie County side.
Commissioner Linda Morse expressed that it’s important to have a positive working relationship between all the entities.
“There’s a way for us to do this that we just need to work together as (Mayor Mike Dodson) said to try to find a solution,” Morse said.
“Safety is important,” said commissioner Usha Reddi.