EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) -- In Parkland, Florida a community is recovering from another mass school shooting. Leaving some to wonder how local law enforcement agencies can prevent similar situations.
Lieutenant Kevin Risley with the Emporia Police Department has spent more than 20 years cultivating a community through service, he hopes will save lives.
"If they want to call it meddling or just trying to help but I'm still around,” Risley said.
If there’s a medal for meddling, it should go to Lt. Risley.
“I had a drive,” said Risley. “A feeling that I wanted to give back to this community. I mean I grew up here. My father grew up here, had a business here. My mom retired from Emporia State University.”
He joined the Emporia Police force 23 years ago but his dedication to public service goes beyond the uniform.
He’s one of the longest serving members on the Emporia Police Benefit Association. A non-profit organization made up of police and civilian employees that raises money for local charities.
"It’s been around for a long time and it’s had its ups and downs but in the last few years we've really dove into community involvement,” Risley said.
They sponsor movies in the park, the Polar Plunge, the DK200 and organizations including St. Francis, TFI Family Services and Corkey’s Cupboard, among many.
"Because of our donation they were able to buy a freezer and in turn that allowed them to expand their Corkey's Cupboard by giving them more space and other items they can provide students in need,” Risley said.
They invest in their community.
"It's kind of like having an account and a financial institution,” said Risley. “We want to deposit all we can and our return on that is the communication we create amongst each other."
And see tangible returns.
"Just the other day citizens are calling us with information about incidents that occurred after the parkland school incident,” Risley said.
Earlier this month two ‘vigilant citizens’ concerned about a possible Emporia school attack, reported a threatening Snap Chat.
Risley took to Facebook with the message “see something, say something.”
“We're given instincts from the stone ages and we need to be aware of those and know that if you feel something's wrong, that something is probably wrong or out of sorts and call us. We'll be happy to check it out,” Risley said.
The threat was a false alarm but students, parents and police know it could’ve been much worse.
"We need the community, I believe, as much as the community needs us,” said Risley. “There are instances that there are crimes we probably wouldn't be able to solve if the community hadn't been involved."
Risley says he won’t stop meddling in his community anytime soon. He hopes you won’t either.
”Luckily we have a great relationship with our community,” said Risley. “We're open in communicating with our community. We're out doing events with our community; we're part of that community.”
The Emporia Police Benefit Association has several upcoming events in the spring and summer. You can find a full list here.