Some police officers given option of adding a partner, after police shootings

Sedgwick County Sheriff (KSN File Photo)
Sedgwick County Sheriff (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The latest shooting of two police officers in Iowa has some officers, understandably, rattled. But, they know their job can be inherently dangerous.

“Well, certainly, that’s our worst fear to hear that news,” says Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Middleton. “You know, we all wonder if that could be us some day. We all hope it will not be, but when you hear that your heart kind of drops. And you just feel terrible for the victims and their families.”

Middleton says state troopers patrol very rural sections of the state. But, he says, they go it alone.

In the city of Wichita, officers have been given the option of doubling up on patrol after shootings of police officers.

“After the Dallas shooting and the shooting in Baton Rouge, (some) officers asked if they could double up and go in pairs. And at that time we offered if they wanted to, they could that voluntarily,” says Deputy Chief Troy Livingston with the Wichita Police Department. “So the supervisors are pretty good about being connected and keyed into their shifts and reading the officers mood and morale and talking to them.”

Livingston says they offered the double up option for a time, out of safety concerns.

It’s something the Sheriff’s Department has talked about as well.

“We do have more rural areas than a lot of municipalities do,” says Lt. Lin Dehning with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s office. “So, there are calls that our deputies go out on that are just, specifically, one deputy calls.”

But, says Dehning, it’s not in the budget to double up with all officers on a permanent basis. And, he adds, officers are trained to be out alone with the understanding their job is inherently dangerous at times.

“If you have two deputies in a car and you send them on a one deputy call, now you are tying up a second deputy that is not able to get out and patrol,” explains Dehning. “We talk about it (safety) from the earliest days of the academy. We try to instill a sense of safety and security in our deputies so they are always looking out for doing things in a safe manner.”

Dehning says officers learn early on to park in safe areas, and to find safe spots to do their paperwork and computer work after traffic stops. The safety concerns also include being aware of surroundings at all times.

“You never know what’s going to happen whether it’s a traffic stop or responding to a call, you never know what you are going to face when you get there,” says Middleton. “We hope for the best and prepare for the worst all the time.”