The Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships (SPCP) District 6 discussion was held at the Bianchino Pavilion on Washburn University campus at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, July 15, 2019.
This discussion lasted for about an hour. Washburn students and staff, police officers and staff from the Topeka Police Department (TPD) and City Council members, as well as people from Topeka community attended this discussion.
This discussion offered the opportunity for people to communicate with police officers, City Council members and SPCP members directly, helping build a better community for Topeka.
The discussion was divided into two parts, a presentation about the SPCP process given by Russell Klumpp from TPD and a question and answer section.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) developed the program to strengthen communication and bridging the gap between government officials and citizens in the Topeka community.
“We needed something that was a neutral program that had trust built into it, that we could present within our community that would allow us to come together and work through some of the issues we were dealing with. So, we began planning, we planned for a long time. The DOJ was part of that process,” Klumpp said.
More than a hundred people attended the event and partook in the conversation.
“From that, we developed a large gathering here at Washburn University in which members of the community, a very wide spectrum of members from the community came together,” said Klumpp. “And really what we were doing was talking. We were having good, honest conversations… and what we were digging down to was, what is it in Topeka that we need to build a stronger relationship between the police department and the community… at the end of the day, what we wound up with was a list of things identified by these groups throughout the community, things that we could do to improve that relationship.”
From the hundred or so people at this event, there was a council selected, which is called SPCP Council.
“That council’s job was to take those items that were identified and meet on a regular basis to work through things, to see how we can do to better see how we can improve on those things,” stated Klumpp.
SPCP is a program that is designed to improve public safety through problem solving and police-community partnerships.
One idea proposed to the SPCP Council was to add a civilian position to report directly to the city manager’s office.
“The idea that the public can always come forward and report a complaint or concern to the police department has been always out there. But the truth of the matter is that it’s not always easy for people to walk into a police station or to speak to a police officer. So, this position not only will give the city manager a liaison into that unit, but it will also allow a conduit of concerns, complaints, those kind of things to come in through the city manager’s office, and then doing it, so we can grow our awareness in that area as well and hopefully capture those complaints,” said Klumpp.
The discussion emphasized the importance of the communication between the police department and the community.
“One of the things that we talked a lot about in these meetings was that we’re not afraid to bruise. We really wanted good honest conversation in these meetings. Because information that’s held back, feelings are held back and not known to us, we can’t deal with those, we can’t do anything with that,” said Klumpp.
Edited by Adam White and Abbie Barth.