Open letter from RCPD Director Dennis Butler

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On August 16, the Law Board unanimously offered me an extension of employment beyond my current contract terms scheduled to expire on December 31, 2021. I thought it appropriate to write your readers and listeners about why I have chosen to retire. I doubt I can say everything that I would like so I may write again before my retirement on February 1, 2022.

I am not one to harbor regrets about past decisions I have made nor events I do not control, but I do have one regret as my time with the RCPD concludes. I regret that I did not have the opportunity to become your Director earlier, or at a younger age free of the personal distractions described below. Early in my career I understood the importance of candor, responsiveness and effective communications with the people I worked with and the citizens I served. Even when I knew they wouldn’t like the answer nor the results I believe that they deserved to know the reasons. I don’t know if every decision I made as your Director were the right ones, but in my mind, they were made for the right reasons. With that said the following paragraph summarizes my decision to retire at the end of my employment agreement.

Although the Law Board unanimously offered to extend my employment, throughout the summer and early Fall my priorities have shifted, and rather suddenly. Some of it is due to health issues that have caused me to miss an inordinate amount of work, thus preventing me from devoting the same level of effort I believe is necessary to do my job well. In my mind, good enough does not cut it and my personal standard is to serve at a level higher than what many might believe is acceptable. I do not consider myself to be blessed with brilliance nor genius, but rather a late-blooming grind-it-out kind of cop; and due to family health issues, beginning in July I have been unable to grind it out like I should.

I began my career in 1979 as an 18-year-old police cadet in Alexandria, VA and in 2004 retired at the rank of captain to accept the job of police chief in Ottawa, KS before being appointed as RCPD Director in 2018. Recently, I turned 61-years-old and I know now it is time to retire from my career in law enforcement; one that I love and that has blessed me far beyond any reasonable expectations. I am fortunate that the good and great days have for outnumbered the tough ones. Colleagues I have worked with have been killed in the line of duty, shot in the line of duty, shot others in the line of duty, taken their own lives, been killed in off-duty accidents, succumbed to illness and suffered divorce-sometimes more than once.

On 9/11, I was a commander in Alexandria when a hijacked plane flew into the Pentagon just a few miles from our headquarters, was the evening watch commander the night that FBI analyst Linda Franklin was gunned down by the Beltway sniper in a Home Depot parking lot just over our City line. I am blessed because God gave me the strength to navigate these challenges and provide me the motivation to continue serving cheerfully instead of giving up to do something else, or retiring long ago like my friends I started my career with. I am the last one from my police academy class of 21 officers from Alexandria to retire.

Every day that RCPD police and correctional officers put on their uniforms are brand new opportunities for them to make a positive difference in the lives of others. This includes our non-sworn workforce who serve differently, but similarly. I derive immense satisfaction from these moments; especially when I know our employees’ actions are selfless and heartfelt. Before I retire I plan to write again to share my thoughts about the current state of policing in America and my unique perspective of the caliber of services citizens of Riley County enjoy from their consolidated and accredited police department.

Dennis P. Butler Director Riley County Police Department (KS)

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