Behind the scenes: K-State police department reveals a day in the life

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Ashley Murphy, senior in sociology and student dispatcher for the K-State Police Department, switches displays at the K-State Police Department dispatch center in Edwards Hall on Feb. 29, 2016. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

Jalen Chance, communications specialist, works in the K-State Police Department’s dispatch center. Sitting in a room with several computer monitors showing surveillance videos, Chance said a typical day for him consists of answering phone calls to the police, running license plates for traffic stops, dispatching police officers to where they need to be and being the face of the police department as people come to him with their questions and reports.

It was one of Chance’s first nights working in the dispatch center by himself when he said he received a call from the Riley County Police Department saying a potentially armed subject was on K-State’s campus. This resulted in the September 2015 campuswide lockdown.

“It definitely heightened me,” Chance said. “It got me going.”

He said this was his craziest day in the eight months he has worked in the dispatch center.

Randy Myles, K-State community police officer, said days like this do not happen very often, but when they do, it can be stressful; however, everyone in the police department does what they can to help and give each other support.

Maj. Don Stubbings, assistant director of the K-State Police Department, said there are two sides to the department: the support services side and the patrol side. Stubbings works in the support services side doing communications, training and media relations.

Stubbings said part of his job is to run the K-State Police Department’s Twitter page, which has over 5,000 followers.

“I really enjoy the social media side,” Stubbings said.

On the patrol side of the department, Myles said he works with the community and patrols the K-State campus and other areas around Manhattan.

Myles said he was hired about a year ago under a government grant to be part of the community outreach program for the police department.

“My role is to build relations with KSU,” Myles said.

He said his day starts off with a briefing from his superiors before going to the patrol cars. This includes being filled in on what happened the night before and things the patrol officers should look out for.

Before going out, though, he and the other officers have to check all of their equipment to make sure they are not forgetting anything and that everything is working properly.

“We’re kind of getting ourselves together, checking and making sure all our equipment on us is operational and we have everything that we need to do our job effectively,” Myles said.

Along with patrolling buildings and responding to dispatchers, Myles also does traffic stops. He said stops usually involve speeding or hands-free violations, which means people were using their phones while driving. While most people are cooperative during these stops, Myles said sometimes people will be argumentative, and sometimes the situation takes an unexpected turn.

For example, a speeding violation stop turned into him giving a sobbing woman advice and recommendations regarding resources for the woman to use after she admitted to being recently sexually assaulted, he said.

“I sat and I talked with her for a good while,” Myles said. “It wasn’t the craziest stop, but it was the most realistic. … It was ‘OK, we had this violation, but this woman was going through something at the time.'”

On more routine days, Myles said he thinks of certain scenarios he might come across. This can include assault or welfare checks, which is when the department receives a call saying a person is concerned about another individual and an officer should go check on them.

“It helps better prepare you for if something does happen,” Myles said.

To keep up with evolving technology and provide more resources for the community, K-State police and police departments nationwide are attempting to transition to Next Generation 911, Stubbings said. Next Generation 911 is what many police departments are moving toward so that the community will be able to text dispatch for 911 calls and access many other resources.

K-State police are already moving toward that initiative with the LiveSafe app, which allows users to report accidents, theft and more. Users can also get information on resources available for counseling, such as contact information for the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education office, for “multi-layered safety,” Stubbings said.

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Kelsey Kendall
Hi everyone! I'm a senior in journalism and cultural anthropology. My favorite things are storytelling, coffee and meeting new people. In that order.