Topekans hit the streets on Saturday to show their support for local police with a Back the Blue “Rolling Rally,” complete with honking horns on vehicles decorated with signs and flags.
The Back the Blue parade proceeded down Sixth Avenue, through the downtown and around the Law Enforcement Center, then headed south on Topeka Blvd. After driving through the “cruise night” area on the boulevard, participants headed out to Wanamaker.
Organizers said the event was meant to support police officers and to protest current efforts underway to put more restrictions on police departments.
“We see them…we love them for the sacrifices they and their families make, and we’re gonna stand up for them, said Ron Gish, retired TPD lieutenant. “We’re gonna defend them from political leaders and police administrators or whoever it is that’s gonna come back and put policies that make their job impossible. We need to do things that make our police department stronger, not weaker, if we want to reduce crime.”
The parade has brought more attention to another “Back the Blue” rally to be held on Tuesday, August 25th, from 4-6 p.m., immediately prior to the City Council meeting. It will take place on the steps in front of TPAC, and on 8th Street, which will be barricaded off.
More information about the Back the Blue rally can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/events/361397151532403/, and at https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendtpdofficers/.
Gish and others have spoken out critically of a Topeka Human Relations Commission document published recently which lists over 50 suggested policies to address concerns expressed by nationwide protests. The City Council is slated to discuss adopting the proposals.
These include such ideas as having officers keep their guns in their vehicle trunks, and that they not be able to access them without approval from superiors.
“We have a fine Topeka Police Department, which is evaluated against best practices for policing by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA),” Gish said.
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Janlyn Nesbett Tucker spoke out at last week’s Topeka City Council meeting, expressing support for allowing “no-knock” warrants.
She suggested that if someone’s daughter were abducted, she wouldn’t want police to knock on the kidnapper’s door and say “Anybody home? I’m coming in to get ya.”
Nesbett Tucker added, “If I had a predator that had my daughter, I would want full support of the police.”
The City Council meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. Due to COVID-19, the number of people allowed inside council chambers is limited to 45. Public comments are limited to four minutes per person, either in person or via Zoom.
Tuesday’s meeting will be streamed live in the Hills Festival Room at Topeka Performing Arts Center, where overflow seating will be provided. Masks are required at the meeting and in the overflow room.
Tuesday’s meeting will also be broadcast live on the city government’s Cox Cable City4 channel, as well as on the city’s Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/cityoftopeka and the city’s website at www.topeka.org/communications/live-stream/.
Speakers must sign up by 5 p.m. Tuesday by contacting the city clerk’s office by phone at 785-368-3940 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Written comments may also be submitted.
–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice
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