WICHITA — Car shopping can be a frustrating experience, but it’s generally not so bad that the police are called.
That’s what happened recently to Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, though.
It’s a reluctant Brewer who discusses the incident, which happened at Parks Motors in Augusta recently.
“It’s already embarrassing enough for this company,” Brewer says. “They have just apologized and apologized and apologized.”
The mayor has been looking for a new car since his Dodge Magnum was totaled in a recent storm. On the night of June 20, Brewer says he was shopping at some Wichita dealerships when he decided to drive to Parks Motors where he was scheduled to do a ribbon cutting a couple of days later.
Brewer, who was dressed in casual clothes and not his traditional work suit, snapped pictures of cars on the lot so he could then go home and check them out online. It was about 11 p.m.
As he was leaving, Brewer saw someone in a pickup truck at the other end of the lot. That person, who was associated with the dealership, had already seen him and made a call.
“Next thing I know … I see the lights and the sheriff’s officer’s there,” Brewer says. A second deputy then arrived in another vehicle, he says.
A deputy asked for his identification.
“She told me that I looked familiar … and she asked me about where did I work,” Brewer says. “I told her for the city of Wichita.”
The deputy continued to press him about his employment. Brewer says he was reluctant to say.
“I wasn’t there as the mayor,” he says. Brewer says, though, he “finally just went ahead and told her.”
He says the deputy then remembered she’d heard him speak at a diversity panel for one of her Wichita State University classes.
“It was funny to me,” Brewer says. “I wasn’t too concerned about it.”
He says the deputy called a supervisor to explain the situation and then called a second supervisor. At that point, Brewer says, he decided to call Wichita Police Chief Norman Williams.
Brewer says he simply wanted to alert Williams to what was going on since his situation probably was broadcast on a police scanner. He says he wasn’t looking for assistance.
“No, no. Just to let him know that, hey, I got stopped. How is the chief going to help me in Butler County?”
Parks Motors co-owner John Culver has conflicting feelings about what happened.
“Yeah, we have a little egg on our face,” Culver says.
He says he feels nothing but gratitude to the sheriff’s office, though. Culver says the dealership makes a point to keep its lots open and accessible after hours, but he says there is considerable theft.
“If (deputies) see somebody on the lot, they may or may not approach them.”
Brewer says he doesn’t blame anyone for that.
“This is a very good business, and all they’re doing is trying to protect their interests, and I’m sure if it was mine, I’d probably do the same thing.”
He and Culver can both laugh about it now.
“Sedgwick and Butler County negotiated the release of the mayor,” says Culver, joking.
“We’ve done business with Carl before,” he says. “He’s a great guy.”
Brewer ended up buying a Chevy Impala at Conklin Cars in Newton. He says he knows a lot of dealers in Wichita, from the well-known Dawson Grimsley of Davis-Moore Auto Group to just about everyone else, but he says he has to be careful about trying to get a good deal while shopping in the city.
“I don’t want to be accused of getting any type of special deals or anything else,” he says. “You have that handful of people that’s always searching for some type of conspiracy.”
Brewer says the price was right at Conklin, but the car wasn’t the Dodge Challenger he wanted. He says his wife vetoed it.
“She didn’t think it was enough room in the backseat for the grandchildren.”
Though Brewer is fine with what happened while car shopping and is now enjoying his new car, he says he still has one problem.
“Dawson’s probably going to kill me.”