Learning how to make your neighborhood safer



Night Out Against Crime brings out kids and parents





At the Night Out Against Crime event, Mike Searcy, K-9 handler, works with Zoom, a two and a half year old yellow lab, that has been trained as a disaster dog for the Kansas City, Kansas Fire department. Zoom can find lost or trapped live human victims. Area kids enjoyed seeing and petting the K-9 disaster dog.



BY DEBRA DeCOSTER


The National Night Out Against Crime event in Wyandotte County on last Tuesday evening gave families and individuals an opportunity to meet face to face with law enforcement, first responders, neighborhood watch groups and other organizations to learn how they can keep crime out of their neighborhoods.


Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Terry Zeigler gave advice to the crowd about what is the key to reducing crime in the community. He said, here is the key to reducing crime but nobody wants to hear this right now.


“We have to start teaching our kids at a very early age about responsibility. Responsibility to the community, our kids have a responsibility to conduct theirselves in a way that is conducive to the safety of our community and when they don’t, they must be held accountable… they have to be taught that lesson. You are going to change crime, it has to start at an early age,” he said.


District Attorney Mark Dupree spoke at the Night Out event to the residents about helping law enforcement fight against crime.


“Be proactive when crimes are committed. There is no way that my office or any other crime office can do anything without you. You are there, you are upfront, and you are outspoken. I have to tell you as a Wyandotte Countian, I appreciate when you are outspoken and I listen,” said Dupree.


The annual free event was held at the National Guard Armory at 18th and Ridge in Kansas City, Kansas. Children were greeted by costume characters and had activities to do to help them learn about the work of law enforcement and firefighters.


Commissioner at-Large, District 1 Melissa Brune Bynum told the large crowd attending the program that she wears a bracelet every day that reminds her of the ultimate sacrifice Detective Brad Lancaster, Captain David Melton, sheriff deputies Theresa King and Patrick Rohrer made for their community.


“I am reminded daily of what these folks do for us in Wyandotte County. We have a Night Out Against Crime and it is a wonderful thing, but these public servants have a Life Out Against Crime and we can’t thank them enough,” said Bynum.


Police Chief Terry Zeigler told the crowd that he will be retiring in September after 29 years on the police department and thank them for their support.


“We went through some difficult times as an organization and your support and the support you have shown me in the last four and half years as your chief, it was an amazing experience. I can’t say enough good things. The officers standing in the back of the room, they are a small representation of the 330 officers that are out in the streets working. I encourage you to continue to support the police officers that serve you, you have a very good police department. I hope that you welcome the next chief as you did me,” he said.


At this time, Chief Zeigler hasn’t heard who will be named as the next police chief.


As he leaves office, he hopes that his officers remember that “time goes by quick and you need to make the biggest impact that you can. Positive impact in the community. 29 years goes by in a blink of an eye,” he said.


He knows that when the next police chief steps into office, there will be changes. He hopes that the programs that he and his officers have put in place do stay, as he said, “our programs are top shelf. They are some of the best in the country, so I hope those continue.”


One of the goals for the police department is to eliminate crime and to help people turn from a life of crime to productive citizens.


“That is why I said tonight that we have to start teaching kids as early as kindergarten responsibility. They have to learn to conduct theirselves in a way that they don’t infringe on other people’s lives,” he said.


When Hispanic News asked about shouldn’t the parents be teaching the responsibility to their children at home from the beginning, he agreed.


“The family unit has been broken down and how do we fix that, I don’t know. I can tell you this, buy back gun programs don’t work, and when I hear that we need more things for our teenagers to do, so the responsibility falls on the government? Individuals have a responsibility to carry theirselves in a certain way and when they don’t, they should be held accountable. It is amazing how we got this way of no one should be held accountable for their actions and that is the direction we are going and that increases crime,” said Chief Zeigler.


Hispanic News asked what advice he would give to Wyandotte County citizens if they find theirselves in an active shooter situation.


“You need to pay attention when you are out. If someone comes in and they are yelling or screaming or acting odd, start making observations so you can pass that along to the police. When you walk into a building make sure you know where the exits are, look for places to hide until you can run from the location and if you must fight for your life,” he said. The police chief has posted a letter on the police department Facebook page which addresses the issue of when you are faced with an active shooter situation.


As Chief Zeigler prepares to leave office, he has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the alleged double dipping accusations. Some officials expressed concern over Zeigler’s lease deal with the Unified Government on a lake house at Wyandotte County lake. Questions were raised about him taking paid time off as chief while also getting paid for labor, materials and gas mileage as he fixed up the home.


“There was no crime committed. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) probe said there was no wrongdoing,” he said.