Unrest in Great Bend continues after city council meeting

Carly Willis/KSN

GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) – Most of the people in the packed Great Bend event center were present at the city council meeting for something not even on the agenda: reinstatement of suspended police chief Clifton Couch.

Couch was suspended earlier in the summer after voicing concerns over some issues at the city level, including former city administrator Howard Partington and mayor Mike Allison allegedly trying to mislead the public about issues within the department.

An emergency meeting was called to order last Friday after Partington’s abrupt retirement due to threats he was receiving from the public. Not all city council members showed, thus they did not meet quorum and could not take action. Monday was more of the same: no action.

“You know obviously I would have preferred that something happened to go ahead and put me back to work and start addressing some of the issues we’ve got going on in the city, but you know they didn’t, so that’s their prerogative,” Chief Couch said of the council members.

Councilman Cory Zimmerman who has historically been supportive of Chief Couch was not present at the meeting due to a prior engagement. Because of this, one citizen who wishes to go unnamed said they hoped the council waited until he was back to vote on anything to do with Couch.

Monday’s meeting went about 30 minutes and included a brief speech by former Great Bend police department and current fraternal order of police lodge member Terry Millard.

“The local lodge and the officers there support the chief and feel that the action taken by the administration are unfair,” Millard said.

The meeting adjourned and the crowd began yelling.

“You’re a liar Joel, everyone knows you’re a liar,” a man at the podium yelled to council member Joel Jackson.

Jackson walked into the meeting late, garnering a similar response.

“I don’t want to see anybody be nasty to people or uncivil. There’s a proper way to act in a democracy, and I hope we continue acting that way,” Couch said after the meeting.

Speakers after the event reiterated on how to take appropriate action to make their voices heard.

Further action on the future of the department is set for the September 5 city council meeting.

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