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SPOTLIGHT
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Who's in charge?

Published on -8/3/2012, 7:35 AM

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On July 3, the Kansas Highway Patrol stopped a speeder south of Stockton. For whatever reason, a chase began, north through Stockton.

The car was abandoned, and a manhunt began about 5 p.m. According to the KHP, law enforcement personal from the Rooks County Sheriff's office, Stockton PD, Hill City PD and the KHP were involved in the search. Only two residents in the area were notified that anything was wrong. From what I was told, the subject was to be considered armed and dangerous.

My wife called the Rooks County Sheriff's office dispatch and asked if we should be concerned, after learning about the manhunt in our area from someone with a scanner.

The dispatcher ask what our address was, replied that we were in no danger and promptly hung up. The rest of the evening and night we did not rest easy, to say the least.

On the morning of July 4, we had stopped at the Plainville Hospital for some friends who had an emergency.

While we there, a Stockton officer who was with the search party and also on this particular ambulance run, stated the search had been called off at midnight July 4. The pickup from Damar wasn't stolen until July 5.

As I understand, it a search should not have been abandoned until they were certain that the suspect was no longer in the area.

I went to the Rooks County commissioners meeting on July 17 and inquired as to who was in charge during this crisis. The answer was that no one knew for sure, but they didn't think it was the sheriffs office. Later, I was told it was the KHP.

My problem is this: The residents in this area were not informed of the situation. Who is responsible for this oversight? Ultimately it's the sheriff's responsibility for the safety of the public. Either the proper procedures were not in place or were not followed. Given we have a prison facility in Stockton, I would have to assume the proper protocol should have been in place.

I don't have anything against Sheriff Sterling. I do think his inexperience is painfully obvious. I asked the commissioners, "Was Chad acting alone or was he being advised by someone else, and if it was someone else, who?"

Our commissioners had a huge mess to address with the Axelson debacle. As I understand it, Chad Sterling was the only immediate choice.

In light of what occurred south of Portis a few years ago, when a man was killed in his own home by an intruder, and all the rest of the violence that seems to be spilling into our neighborhoods, we cannot afford this level of incompetence in our sheriff's office or any other law enforcement agency.

There is an election August 7 to decide who will be our next sheriff in Rooks County. Our local papers haven't done a very good job of vetting the candidates, especially the Plainville Times, which refused to print this letter in it's entirety. When you consider our very lives may be at stake, it is a very chilling situation.

Rick Waters

Stockton

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