KCKPD chief believes in department’s training, unsure why tragedy is following his officers after close call

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The Kansas City, Kansas Police Department has had more than its share of tragedy in the last couple of years. After two officers lost their lives in the last two years, another one came close to losing his on Sunday night.

FOX4's Shannon O'Brien asked Monday why KCKPD seems to suffer more injuries and deaths than similar-sized departments in the region and state.

"I cannot answer that for you. I am not sure why our officers are going through a hard time. We have had our fair share and if there is a way we can pinpoint that we would love to reverse that," Police Chief Terry Zeigler said.

The close call for officers on Sunday found police responding to a call of indecent exposure, and it turned deadly for the suspect. He fought police officers, getting one's gun. One officer was shot in the hand, the other suffered powder burns on his face. The suspect was shot dead.

"We do a lot of things to prepare our officers and I come back to Lancaster and Melton, the bad guys got the drop on them. The guys last night, they did rely in the training to get them through, and they did get injured, but they are here, they are alive," Chief Zeigler said.

All police departments in Kansas must follow the law enforcement training guidelines set by the state. The Kansas Law Enforcement training Center audits police training centers, like the one in KCK, once a year.

"It's truly my belief as Academy Commander that we really research what is what is going on across the country, we research the best scenario for training and we try to do exactly that with our officers," Captain Robert Angell, KCK Training Unit commander, said. "And we do go above and beyond. We give almost, it is just shy of 200 hours more in our overall academy than what the state of Kansas requires for a law enforcement officer."

Many of those 200 hours is made up of real-life scenario training. Last year, KCK police brought in students from the KCK Community College Drama Club to play the people police deal with on the streets.

Mental health training is included, but Chief Zeigler says when drugs and alcohol are a factor, it's even more unpredictable. He rejects the notion that his department's hard time is because of training issues but says how the officer lost control of his gun will be something they look at.

"The one officer is getting ready to go into surgery today and he will be out for a little bit, and they are going to talk to our detectives at some point and we will find out what was going on at the time. Then we can start looking at, was there an issue with handgun retention?" he said.


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