City and county still not using $4 million investment

KECHI, Kansas – A new $3.5 million building for Troop F of the Kansas Highway Patrol serving the Wichita area is on the way.

With shiny new shovels, the governor, attorney general and a lot of Kansas Highway Patrol troopers turned dirt Tuesday in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new building for KHP.

“It’s not at taxpayer expense,” said Governor Sam Brownback at the ceremony on Tuesday. “This is confiscated property. And the legislature has approved this.”

It’s being built with seized property money.

But, KSN is asking, why not save the money and put the Kansas Highway Patrol into the new Heartland Training facility, only about two miles away?

“Yes, the city is not using that building,” says City Council member James Clendenin. “I suppose it would be a great idea to take that $3.5 Million for the (highway) patrol building, and, instead, put that (money) drug prevention. We are always looking for ways to be more efficient.  But, the city has not made an official decision yet on that (training facility) building. And we are not the highway patrol. That is state run.”

The city of Wichita and Sedgwick County have both put about $4 million into infrastructure at the new Heartland Training facility. And that new facility is sitting, largely, empty. Only the National Guard is using the facility at this time.

KSN asked the sheriff’s office if the county will use the new facility at some point. Spokesperson David Mattingly said the sheriff is still working a plan for the building, or “a facility for comprehensive” training for sheriff’s deputies.

KSN also asked Attorney General Derek Schmidt, if the state could save $3.5 million by moving the highway patrol into the Law Enforcement Training facility.

“Could we use that $3.5 million some place else? I suppose. But, this Highway Patrol facility has been planned for many, many years,” says Schmidt. “And there is no taxpayer money going into the facility…  I think it is a very important program that makes perfectly good sense. The reason that taxpayers have to foot the bill for a significant law enforcement presence, is criminal conduct around the state. In this case, rather than asking the taxpayers to bear additional cost, in order to support the state’s law enforcement presence in Sedgwick County and the area. It’s the bad guys, the drug dealers, the folks that incurred that cost in the first place, who are footing the bill. So I think it’s a great logic to it and I think it’s great for taxpayers.”

Schmidt says the focus right now is on the new facility for the highway patrol that has been in the planning stages for years

“Well, we have certainly needed a new facility for some time,” says Gary Warner with the Highway Patrol. “We long ago outgrew our current space. I do like the fact this is funding without using any taxpayer money.”

 

 

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