RCPD hires nine new officers

A K-State Campus Police officer watches over the area surrounding the roundabout between Anderson and Kedzie Halls and the Union following the campuswide lockdown Friday morning. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

The Riley County Police Department has recently hired nine new officers to be sworn in after training. The RCPD is also working to find and train more officers before the year ends.

Brad Schoen, director of the RCPD, said in a phone interview that RCPD officers leave and create job openings for a number of reasons.

“We have a lot of people that leave us that want to continue their education,” Schoen said. “They get here and … try it for a while and decide that they had bigger aspirations all along, or they go to federal employment in some sort of policing field, whether it’s the Marshals, the FBI or some DHS [Department of Homeland Security] organization.”

According to Schoen, the RCPD is maintaining effective policing despite the multiple job openings, though the police force still hopes to hire four more officers before the end of 2017.

In March, NBC reported that numerous police departments around the country are losing officers and recruits. According to NBC, “the current shortage afflicts police forces from large metropolitan hubs to rural towns.” Despite this widespread national shortage, the RCPD has not been greatly affected.

The Manhattan Mercury recently reported that the RCPD hired new officers amid a high turnover period. However, Alexander Robinson, public information officer for the RCPD, said he thinks the headline for the Mercury’s article was misleading.

“In the actual statements that the director made, I don’t think those mention anything about high turnover rates,” Robinson said.

According to Robinson, the actual turnover rates for the RCPD have stayed between 5 and 7 percent in the last four years.

“These numbers … for any business are really great turnover rates, and for a police department are fantastic,” Robinson said.

To become sworn officers of the RCPD, newly hired trainees must complete an intensive hiring and training process that takes around nine months. These nine months include three months of background checks and other procedures, three months of training at the Kansas Law Enforcement Center, and a final three months with a local training officer to learn the RCPD’s expectations.

Robinson had a lot to say when asked if officers receive any additional training for working with college students.

Robinson cited a specific course that RCPD recruits and officers go through called “Unconditional Respect” as a cornerstone of the RCPD’s relationship with the community. Unconditional Respect is a course teaching officers to respect everyone, no matter the situation.

“We do training on unconditional respect and how it’s vital for doing our job the correct way,” Robinson said. “Our goal is that everyone walks away better than they were before.”

Currently, one major way that the RCPD interacts with the Manhattan student population is through Twitter.

“If we can make [a tweet] funny or memorable, that has a much better chance of changing people’s behavior and thought process rather than just saying, ‘Hey, don’t drink and drive,’” Robinson said.

Officers will also speak to student organizations about issues relevant to student life upon request. These range from sexual assault awareness to staying safe on Fake Patty’s Day.

Robinson said the officers in the RCPD “enjoy being in the area with K-State students.”