AP: Valley Falls residents criticize new police auxiliary
VALLEY FALLS (AP) — After just one week of operation, some citizens of Valley Falls have already had enough of a new police auxiliary program, which allows some private citizens to patrol the town in place of police officers.
About 40 people attended a city council meeting Wednesday night to criticize the program, saying it created chaos on Saturday night and that the auxiliary officers contributed to the problem.
The city created the program April 25 in the Jefferson County town of about 1,200 residents, which has two full-time and two part-time police officers.
Some residents at the meeting told the council they were upset that auxiliary police were patrolling the city's streets Saturday evening while a trained patrolman was doing paperwork in the office, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Two city councilmen, Doug Wildeman and Todd Harrington, patrolled the city as auxiliary officers Saturday evening while a Valley Falls officer was told to do paperwork in the office but be available if needed. City officials acknowledged that Harrington and Wildeman weren't properly covered by city vehicle insurance.
Some residents said teenagers were speeding up and down the town's main street and an auxiliary officer joined in, flashing the police sirens and an air horn, WIBW reported.
"We pay officers to do their job. I don't think people who aren't qualified should be doing something like that," resident Pat Reyley said. "As taxpayers, if something was to happen to the patrol car, who's going to pay for that? Us."
Residents also said the auxiliary program encourages reckless behavior.
"This is the night to come and tear up our community. This is the town to be in at (Saturday) night because they know there's no police around to do anything about it. That concerns me," Julie Trower said.
Mayor Charles Stutesman said Wednesday the program needed more discussion and asked for volunteers for a citizen committee to help decide how best to operate the auxiliary program.