Many in Great Bend supporting suspended police chief

A resident of Great Bend shows off a sign supporting the city's police chief who was suspended in late July. (Photo: KSN/.John Asebes)

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – It’s been a touchy topic in Great Bend recently, and many in the community are happy to offer their two cents worth on the suspension of the city’s police chief. Now, some are expressing their views more creatively.

If you drive around Great Bend long enough, you’re bound to see a sign that says, “I stand with Chief Couch.”

A group of people have gotten together to provide the signs to anyone who wants one. It’s their way of speaking out, and at least one city council member says it’s been a long time coming.

“Just to show our support for what he is doing for our community and standing up to what he believed was wrong,” said Great Bend resident Laura Harrington.

Days after the chief was suspended, many residents are turning to paint and wood as a sign of their solidarity with the chief.

“And I want to stand up and support our guys,” said Hillary King. ‘They are going a good job.”

The color blue is important since it shows support for law enforcement. King says she has lots of blue paint.

“It’s like, bring your boards please.”

So, anyone who wants to put a “God Bless Chief Couch” sign in their front yard, may.  And, many have.

“They don’t know what is going on when they are doing closed-session council meetings, it is not fair,” said King. “It is not right and when they basically want to get rid of Clif, we have to show our support to Clif.”

Dana Dawson is a member of the Great Bend City Council.

“The public overwhelmingly would like to see this (support) happen,” said Dawson.

Dawson is among the three members of the council who voted against the chief’s suspension. He says ever since the chief brought up concerns about issues within the police department, he’s met resistance from City Administrator Howard Partington and Mayor Mike Allison.

“They wouldn’t do it,” said Dawson. “I even tried to ask them to call a special meeting because the next council meeting wouldn’t be for another 3 weeks at that time and they once again said no.”

Dawson questions the integrity of Partington and Allison.

“When somebody as high-ranking as the chief of police says, ‘I have suspicions of some of the actions of the administrator,’ I think it ought to at least be addressed, and the majority of the council and the mayor have just decided ‘no’,” Dawson said.

While Chief Couch may be suspended, some folks in the community aren’t letting go of the issue.

“It is wrong what they are doing and I feel like all the answers should be heard before they make a decision,” said Shannon Rziha.

KSN reached out to the mayor and city administrator for comments.  Neither of them could be reached.

We did, however, speak with Council Member Joel Jackson who voted for the chief’s suspension.  Jackson would only say personnel issues are discussed in executive session and are supposed to be kept confidential.

According to Chief Couch’s suspension notice, he has until July 28 at 4:30 p.m. to request a closed hearing. If he doesn’t he will be officially terminated on July 31.

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