I hope this finds you and your families healthy. I have important news to pass along.
First, as some of you may have already concluded, I have decided to cancel the KPOA 2020 Fall Conference. This was not a simple decision to make. I was looking forward to reconnecting with members, hearing some great presenters, and transferring leadership to our new officers. However, I cannot in good conscience risk the health and safety of our members, their families, and their co-workers and citizens in their communities. Additionally, many agencies across the state, including my agency, have travel restrictions in place. Even had the conference taken place, it is likely there wouldn’t have been enough participants to cover the cost.
Our revised Constitution and ByLaws allow us to hold an electronic vote and we will make that happen. Remember to notify Administrator Jeff Piper if you are interested in holding office. I will not be exercising the option to run for President for a second term. Please know that I will continue to support KPOA.
The second thing I want to inform you about is recent actions taken on your behalf. Executive officers from the Kansas Peace Officers’ Association, the Kansas Sheriff’s Association, and the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police, have been collaborating to ensure our officers have a voice in the efforts to reform law enforcement in Kansas.
In the spirit of unity and cooperation, leaders from the KPOA, KSA, and KACP communicated and made decisions to positively respond to criticism against law enforcement spreading across our country. Next, with Ed Klumpp as a facilitator, we requested a meeting with the Governor. On July 9, 2020 leadership from the three associations, including Jeff and myself representing KPOA, travelled to Topeka and met with Governor Kelly. We, as a group wanted to respectfully share our concerns that tragic events involving law enforcement in other states don’t necessitate the need for sweeping changes to Kansas law enforcement. Because Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsey is the only commissioned law enforcement officer on the governor’s Commission on Racial Equity and Justice, we asked for representation. Unfortunately, that request was not granted. However, Governor Kelly assured us the Commission would listen to concerns of our associations and would utilize us to educate the members.
Thus began several more weeks of discussion. We agreed on topics (KLETC, KSCPOST, Qualified Immunity, Officer Certification and Decertification, Misconduct Records Privacy, and SRO Roles and Policing in Schools) to present to the Commission if given the opportunity. The cornerstone of our message was to provide examples of how Kansas law enforcement is “ahead of the curve” in comparison to concerns expressed in other states. Ed was contacted by the governor’s office to arrange a “listening session” and on July 29, 2020 five of us, representing the KPOA, KSA, and KACP met, via online video, with members of the Commission. We requested the session be recorded and the link to the video is https://youtu.be/YSGm9hK7fCQ.
We recognize this is the first step in providing input to potential long-term changes in law enforcement in Kansas. This process is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, and our associations are committed to continue to positively represent our profession.
I am proud of the way our three associations have come together. I am grateful to Ed, Jeff and the leaders of KSA and KACP. I am also grateful to Governor Kelly, her staff, and the members of the Commission for the opportunity to have a say in the future of law enforcement in Kansas.
Stay safe and healthy.