Riley County to add questions to police board application process

Savannah Rattanavong, The Manhattan Mercury, Kan.
·2 min read

Apr. 20—The Riley County Commission on Monday selected a handful of questions to ask Riley County police board applicants to help establish how it will approach appointments moving forward.

The board oversees the Riley County Police Department with some of its largest functions being setting the department's annual budget, approving equipment purchases and other expenditures, affirming or revoking employee suspensions or dismissals, and adopting department rules and regulations.

Seeing as the board sets an approximately $22 million budget each year, county chairman John Ford said he thinks the item warranted its own discussion since it is different than a typical advisory board.

"I'd like to see us model something closer to (the indigent defense panel) where we do have an open interview process," he said. "... I don't know if we'd (designate) time for some public comments or not, I guess that would be a further discussion. I think developing (an interview questionnaire) would be functional because it would give some kind of ... foundation."

Ford advised not making the questions too complicated because it might discourage people who might otherwise be qualified to apply and go through the process.

The board settled on general questions involving applicants' reasons for applying, what experience they bring to the board, desired accomplishments while serving, how they would build connections or relationships within the community and a few other similar queries.

By state statute, the board includes seven members: one Riley County commissioner; one county resident selected by county commissioners; one Manhattan city commissioner; two Manhattan residents selected by city commissioners; the Riley County attorney; and one city or county commissioner.

The law board recently set its board in January, so it will not rotate in new members until 2023 unless a vacancy occurs.

Vargo suggested if the interviews are public, the board shouldn't allow the public to directly question an applicant for the same reason.

"Everyone has the opportunity to contact the commissioners through the website and email for any comments regarding any candidate they may be aware of, and like I said, all applications are on file and can be requested by anyone," he said. "It's always been an open public process and transparent, so I just think you need to think about that."

The board will determine at a later date whether to make the interview process public and what that would look like.