Category Archives: Police Department

Families of Carr victims: Don’t abolish death penalty

TOPEKA – Standing with Attorney General Steve Six on Thursday, family members of the Carr brothers’ victims joined him in urging lawmakers not to abolish the death penalty.

On Monday, Senate Bill 208 is scheduled to for debate on the Senate floor. The proposal would abolish the death penalty for cases sentenced after July 1, 2009.

Six worried that the change could mean that death row inmates currently appealing their sentences – such as Michael Marsh and Gavin Scott – could be exempted from execution.

Family members also worried that Reginald and Jonathan Carr could escape the death penalty through appeals, if the law were changed.

It is’t about cost or closure, said Amy Scott, who was dating Brad Heyka, one of four people kidnapped and shot execution style on a Wichita soccer field in 2000 by brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr. A fifth person survived. The Carrs have been on death row since 2002.

“We’re never going to have closure because we’ve lost the people we loved so much,” she said. “I just think this is a matter of justice. This just needs to be finished to the end.”

The proposal comes from Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick, who says all cost-saving measures should be considered while the state faces a budget crunch.

Prosecutors, such as Six, have argued that the cases do not necessarily cost more and justice should not be predicated on expense.

He urged Kansans to contact their lawmakers and express opposition to banning the death penalty.

Kansas has 10 men on death row. No one has been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1994.

Buying drugs from The Man

DrugsEver wonder how much the police might spend buying drugs in undercover stings this year? Try about $30,000. Or how about money spent on rent for undercover stings? Try about $33,000.

By its nature, undercover work is not usually part of the public discussion in government. But its budget — or part of it anyway — is public record. The city council will vote Tuesday on Wichita’s annual narcotic seizure fund. It’s a $186,000 pot (no pun) of money that was collected by state, federal and local law enforcement after judges ruled against drug dealers and seized drug money and other possessions.

According to the council agenda report, Wichita’s fund breaks down like this for 2008:

  • Undercover buy money – $30,000
  • Undercover vehicle maintenance/operations – $30,000 (Example of that came Friday.)
  • Undercover fuel – $42,504
  • Undercover fleet replacements – $25,000
  • Law enforcement training – $15,000
  • Undercover rent – $33,000
  • Annual audit – $3,000
  • Contingency/fund reserve – $7,812.25
  • Total – $186,316.25
In 2006, Wichita police conducted 58 “major narcotics investigations, resulting in 145 cases and 80 warrants” according to the latest city budget. Detective Bryan Martin and Rex, his Belgian Malinois dog, seized 25 pounds of cocaine and 53 pounds of marijuana. And police seized $266,200 and 12 vehicles associated with drug trafficking, the budget shows.

What’s the Council up to next? Lots of ceremony

Here’s what Tuesday’s City Council meeting looks like: Pray, Pledge of Allegiance and then ceremony (swear in the new mayor), ceremony (swear in a new council member), ceremony (tribute to Bob Martz). Oh, and once the new Council lineup is in place, they’ll dive into several issues.

Here are the hottest items:

  • Pick a new vice-mayor to replace Paul Gray, who is finishing his one-year term. (See procedure here.)
  • Vote to sign an agreement with the US Army Corps of Engineers to do a massive, $4.5 million flood protection project on the Cowskin Creek that will essentially cut a 300-foot wide overflow shelf into the shoreline. City drainage engineers say it could reduce flooding by more than a foot in some residential areas during the type of downpour that comes about once every 100 years. (See previous Eagle story.)
  • Consider a $45,000 contract for drug and alcohol testing of transportation, police and fire employees. That kicks in some new random tests agreed the unions agreed to about a year ago, and it comes at a time when both the police and fire unions’ men and women are working under an expired contract.
  • Decide whether to OK a $67,225 remodel of the planning department’s meeting room that includes audio/visual components.
  • Rename Harvest Park, 9500 Provincial Lane, as “Bob Martz Park” in honor of former District 5 City Council member Bob Martz, who died of an apparent heart attack in January.
  • Vote to rezone an oddly shaped swath of land near McConnell Air Force Base to “Air Force Base District” as part of the city’s massive rezoning around the base to show military officials who may be preparing the next round of base closures McConnell is prepared for future expansion and has terrorism safeguards.

See the full agenda.

More on cameras on police cars

We reported in The Eagle today about Mayor Carlos Mayans and City Council member Carl Brewer supporting cameras in police cars. Both men supported it in their comments. But, as Sunflower Community Action members are pointing out this morning, that’s not the full story.

Mayans asked Brewer to make a motion on the cameras during budget negotiations last year, but Brewer didn’t. Later, Mayans made a motion of his own to shift $150,000 from the city’s long-term spending to start a pilot project. Brewer voted against that. Only Mayans and Paul Gray supported it. See the full minutes in a PDF file here.

Contracts pending, another $20,000 for hired guns

As the Fraternal Order of Police and International Association of Firefighters Union continue to meet with the city about their overdue contracts, the city’s hired lawyers are asking for another $20,000. And the council appears poised to give it to them, based on the fact that no one contested the spending when the council reviewed this week’s agenda last Friday.

The city’s hired lawyers — McAnany, VanCleave and Phillips law firm and Frank Ojile — have already been given $75,000 to be the city’s contract “consultant” and oversee the who-gets-what between the city’s three biggest unions: the FOP, IAFF and SEIU, which represents maintenance and public works employees.

Police union: Council candidates wanted

Well, the deadline to file for mayor and city council has passed, but the police union is still looking.

Aside from incumbents on the council, who are well aware of the Fraternal Order of Police’s political clout, the union didn’t hear from many other candidates. So they took out an ad in today’s Eagle requesting a candidate who is “pro public safety, can prioritize the spending of tax dollars, and who believes the police deserve a fair contract.”

They’ve been getting calls all day.

“We’ve heard from a couple of the sitting council member and the mayor,” union president, Sgt. Chester Pinkston, said. “We haven’t heard near enough from the rest of them and we’re obviously looking at who we want to endorse for this.”

The FOP represents more than 600 employees — employees whose families have not been shy in supporting the department (as seen in their most recent protest, which included moms, dads, kids and dogs). Typically, the union endorses a candidate after the primary, but Pinkston says that members tonight will discuss an earlier endorsement this year.

Negotiations at the speed of snail

Remember a month ago when hundreds of police officers picketed City Hall, signs in hand, pleading for more cooperation and fair salaries?

And remember when City Manager George Kolb was on every newscast in town telling taxpayers that they’d either see reduced city services or a tax increase if the police get what they want?

Well, it’s been pretty quiet since — all the salaries are stagnant and so are taxes. Since the PD and city issued a joint press release saying they wouldn’t continue to vent their frustrations and roll out worst case scenarios at each other in the media, the issue has been publicly calm.

Sgt. Chester Pinkston, the union president, tells The Hall Monitor that the city is inching its offer up, little-by-little. But apparently not enough…

“We’re still not near a settlement,” Pinkston said.

“But we’re still optimistic,” he followed. “It’s just moving at a snail’s pace, unfortunately.”

History shows that’s often the way these things go.

Meanwhile, the fire department’s union is in waiting. The city backed out their most recent meeting because one of their players couldn’t make the meeting, Doug Pickard, president of the firefighters’ union, said.

“We’re just kind of treading water,” he said.

It’s not clear how the two contracts fit together, but, according to press release the city handed out in mid-December, “Any contract with this group (being the police) for more than the budgeted 2 percent will further increase pressure for a tax increase or reduction in other services.”

Not exactly a pleasant scenario for city leaders in an election season where most of the 26 candidates out there are repeating the mantra of lower taxes, increased public safety and fiscal constraint.