Valley Falls Outraged Over Reported Auxiliary Police Misconduct

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (WIBW) -- Disgruntled citizens in Valley Falls gathered to voice their opinions on what they're calling auxiliary police misconduct.

The reason why many of them are so heated has them wondering how their council is running their city.

Residents describe last Saturday night in downtown Valley Falls as total mayhem, and it had Wednesday's council meeting in mayhem as well.

Saturday night, residents reported teenagers drag-racing and speeding up and down the city's main street. The icing on the cake for them was finding out an auxiliary police officer and councilman, Todd Harrington, was part of it.

Another auxiliary member, Doug Wildeman was reported to have been driving around town with a young girl in his lap.

"He was turning the siren on and off, the headlights on an off, the flashers on and off, hit the airhorn a couple times," said witness Lee Kahn of Valley Falls. "He floored it and he gunned it at maximum speed. I assumed it was a police officer so I came in to City Hall to file a written complaint, only to find out it wasn't even a police officer driving the car, that it was a civilian."

Valley Falls city council approved its auxiliary police program April 25. It gives civilians the right to drive in police cars and patrol the city. The council said having a civilian on patrol will make kids feel comfortable with hanging out downtown. Harrington said in the meeting that the city council's goal was to have the kids all in once place so they would be easier to watch. He also said he wanted the atmosphere to be similar to when he was a teen, hanging out downtown.

"They are afraid to be uptown when the cops are up there. They get run off," Harrington said.

Many Valley Falls residents and parents are outraged that civilians were patrolling that Saturday when the situation got out of control. One trained patrolman was reported to have been filling out paperwork while two auxiliary members were out in police cars.

"We pay officers to do their job. I don't think people who aren't qualified should be doing something like that," resident Pat Reyley said. "As taxpayers, if something was to happen to the patrol car, who's going to pay for that? Us."

Residents say the auxiliary program test-run did nothing but encourage reckless behavior in the town's youth.

"This is the night to come and tear up our community. This is the town to be in at that night because they know there's no police around to do anything about it. That concerns me," Julie Trower said.

13 News received information from an anonymous source that the mayor, Charles Stutesman was going to fire the chief of police Josh Pence about the whole situation, but decided against it and reappointed him.

As it stands, the auxiliary program was tabled at Wednesday's meeting and will no longer be in effect for the time being.

No arrests, citations or tickets were given out on Saturday night. Two Jefferson County police officers were called to downtown Valley Falls when the teenagers were there.


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