A less lethal way of subduing uncontrollable suspects will soon be in the hands of the Abilene Police Department.
Thanks to a donation by the Jeffcoat Foundation, a weapon that fires 37 mm plastic rounds with an effective range of up to 65 feet has been funded.
At the Abilene City Commission meeting on Monday, Hank Royer presented a check to the Abilene Police Department for $7,000 from the foundation to fund four Arwen Ace weapons.
Royer also presented the Abilene Parks and Recreation Department a check for $10,000 to fund scholarships for kids to participate in events.
Royer told commissioners that in 2018 the police department had 31 calls related to psychiatric emergencies and 40 in 2019.
“We’re not immune from it,” he said. “The Jeffcoat Foundation would like Abilene to be on par with Kansas City and Salina in enabling the officers to stay safe and also do what they have to, to help these people get the help.”
Royer said that while going to law school, he worked as a police officer in Topeka.
“Equipment has changed a bunch,” he said.
He said he was the first police officer in Topeka to have a bulletproof vest because he bought it himself, he said.
“My girlfriend, who is now my wife, thought I ought to come home because I was working the 11 to 7 shift in some tough areas of town by design,” he said.
He said that dealing with mentally ill or intoxicated subjects can be dangerous for police officers.
“When I was down there in Topeka we got into lots of wrestling matches with people because all we had was pepper spray and about a three foot night stick to readjust their attitudes,” he said. “We had to get right up and personal with those people and with the mentally ill that wasn’t a satisfactory solution. You had those two things and then your gun which, sadly in our country, has been used against the mentally ill.”
He said the best way to deal with the mentally ill or intoxicated person is to defuse the situation.
He said the Arwen Aces weapon is being used in both Johnson County and neighboring Saline County.
“With this device they can strike them and knock them down without using lethal force,” he said.
Royer said he wanted to commend the parks and recreation department for its programs.
“Many years ago the Jeffcoat Foundation who I am representing today started and has continued to contribute to a scholarship fund for those young people in Abilene that might not otherwise participate in this great programming,” Royer told the commissioners.
He said 665 scholarships were presented last year.
“A couple years ago I did pledge that as long as Jane Foltz was your recreation director, I would continue to fund that. But what have you done?” Royer said of the commission voting to promote Foltz to the city manager position.
Saying that Foltz still has something to do with parks and recreation, he presented the $10,000 check.
“It’s really a bang up thing they do to get these kids in there,” he said. “Everything from a family swimming pass so the whole family can go swimming to dance lessons to basketball and junior cowboy camps.”
The city also approved on a 5-0 vote a contract of $1.4 million from J & K Contracting for the Eighth Street project.
City Engineer Mark Bachamp said the contractor was eager to get started.
“Their dirt contractor is ready to get going to remove some trees,” he said.
He said major construction could start in 30 to 40 days.
Contact Tim Horan at firstname.lastname@example.org.