TOPEKA, MANHATTAN, EMPORIA, Kan. (KSNT) – In the wake of George Floyd’s murder local law enforcement here in northeast Kansas are working to gain back community trust.
For Riley County Police Department, Emporia Police Department and Topeka Police Department alike, training on racial bias is already part of their work.
Sergeant Lisa Sage works at the Emporia Police Department
“Training in racism and excessive use of force and how to treat people. How to treat people with professionalism and courtesy and respect,” Sage said. “That is our goal. to gain voluntary compliance from anyone we may be dealing with without having to use any kind of force.”
Each year they do several hours of training to make sure officers aren’t treating people of color any differently. Lieutenant Brad Jager with the Riley County Police Department said it’s an important part of their education process.
“Our officers in our entire agency, it’s ingrained in them that yes we all have biases, and we have to be understanding of that and monitor those so that they don’t control our decision making,” Jager said.
Education is only part of it. They all have steps to hold officers accountable too.
Each department has multiple supervisors who review body camera footage any time an officer uses force on someone, to make sure they aren’t abusing their power.
Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran said in his department that review process is extensive.
“Our checks and balances on the use of force is, as I was told by someone ‘That’s kind of over the top isn’t it?’ And my response is no,” Cochran said. “You’ve got to be held accountable.”
Seeing what happened to George Floyd has had an impact on them.
“We are as outraged about George Floyd’s death and George Floyd’s homicide as other folks are across this nation,” Sage said.
Now they’re all focused on rebuilding trust in their communities and convincing people they want to protect and serve them.
“I thoroughly believe that 99% of all police officers throughout this country go to work doing the right thing for the right reasons. They got into this job for the right reasons,” Cochran said. “I would encourage people to take a step back and say if you have a bad apple, should that be reflective on all of us?”
“Have trust in our police department and know we’re trying to do the right thing,” Jones said.
“There are some bad police officers and we need them out of the profession. They’re destroying it in the eyes of the public. But the majority of police officers are good and they got into the profession because they really truly like to help people,”Sage said.
In both Riley County and Topeka, members actually joined the peaceful protests in their cities. In Emporia, police plan to participate in the peaceful demonstration happening later in the week.