Sunday, December 21, 2014

Police look ahead to new relationship with sheriff

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 3/25/2013

Let the healing begin.

Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s plan to resign from office April 1 is the first step in a partnership-rebuilding process aimed at restoring public confidence in law enforcement, Ottawa’s police chief said Friday in the wake of Curry’s pending departure.

Let the healing begin.

Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry’s plan to resign from office April 1 is the first step in a partnership-rebuilding process aimed at restoring public confidence in law enforcement, Ottawa’s police chief said Friday in the wake of Curry’s pending departure.

The chiefs of Franklin County’s two police departments — Ottawa and Wellsville — talked about what effect Curry’s resignation would have on the relationships between their departments and the sheriff’s office.

The Ottawa Police Department continues to look forward to serving the community with all of its law enforcement partners, Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, said.

“Obviously, we are more effective when working together while not distracted by events that undermine these efforts,” Butler said. “The sheriff’s resignation is the first step in what will be a long process to repair a partnership that consists of many important components, none of which are more important than trust at every level.  

“In that spirit, we are committed to supporting our colleagues in the sheriff’s office and ask the community to do the same as we work with them to provide the absolute best service to our citizens,” the chief said.

Facing a crowded courtroom gathered for an ouster hearing last Thursday aimed at removing the sheriff from office, Curry said he would voluntarily resign, effective 5 p.m. April 1. Curry submitted his resignation letter to Gov. Sam Brownback’s office last week, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Herald from the sheriff’s Olathe-based attorney N. Trey Pettlon.

Stephen Hunting, Franklin County attorney, filed ouster proceedings in late February against Curry. In doing so, he called on the sheriff to resign immediately following his Feb. 27 arrest on a felony charge of interference with law enforcement and a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. The arrest came as the result of a months-long investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation.

“It is my belief that the resignation will have no effect on the working relationship between the Wellsville Police Department and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office,” Steve Gillespie, Wellsville police chief, said. “We will continue to work as we always have.”

The sheriff’s office has a contract to provide 30 hours of patrol duty each week to the City of Pomona.

“I haven’t seen any drop off in patrols, and I’m confident that the sheriff’s office will continue to fulfill its contract obligations with the City of Pomona,” Marie Seneca, Pomona mayor, said late last week. “I know [Undersheriff] Steve Lunger, and I have every confidence in his ability to run the sheriff’s office.”

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