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Cliff Couch resigns as police chief
Couch fears there is a target on his back
Clifton Couch

Click to read Police Chief Clifton Couch’s entire statement on his resignation:

Great Bend Police Chief Clifton Couch submitted Wednesday afternoon his resignation effective Oct. 15. The announcement came just a week after he was reinstated following his suspension in July amid the on-going controversy that has engulfed the chief and the city.

“During my suspension, the community was nothing short of fantastic towards me and my family,” Couch said in a statement released Thursday morning. “I will be forever grateful for the kind words, cards, and numerous other acts of kindness shown towards us.

“I am also grateful for the handful of council members who spoke out against my suspension and worked so hard to undo it,” he said. “I was also fortunate enough to have the support of several council members (Dana Dawson, Corey Zimmerman, and Brock McPherson) who voted against my suspension and worked tirelessly to undo the injustice they witnessed.”

Eventually, a majority vote of the City Council ended the suspension and expunged all accusations against him, he said. “I am so very blessed to have seen so many in Great Bend work so hard to undo an injustice. I’ve also been encouraged at the prospect of so many taking such a deep interest in their community and finding ways to be involved in the governance of their city.” 

However, he said it become apparent to him that there will be “insurmountable difficulties” in continuing his duties. “The same small group of people that orchestrated my termination in order to silence me is still in positions of power. None of the concerns I addressed to the Council regarding Mayor Allison or Administrator Partington were ever investigated.”

He said it has also become obvious that he was being targeted politically. “Without any regards to truth or moral scruples, and I know that one cannot be an effective police chief with a target on his back.”

This is the latest chapter in the ongoing saga. The months-long controversy pitting the chief against now retired City Administrator Howard Partington and Mayor Mike Allison has sparked community protests and drawn hundreds of vocal Couch supporters to council meetings.

It was on Sept. 5 that a divided Great Bend City Council voted Tuesday night to reinstate the suspended chief Clifton Couch. The action met with cheers and a standing ovation from a capacity crowd crammed in the Great Bend Events Center.

On July 24, the Great Bend City Council held the special meeting with the sole agenda item being an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel matters involving Couch and now retired Partington.

Following the session, the council approved suspending Couch with pay with the potential for termination. This was based on comments he made during the June 29 special meeting where Couch alleged unethical conduct by Partington and Allison.

Partington had maintained Cliff had been insubordinate. The council on June 29 called for a management and compensation study of the Police Department.

Couch had appealed his suspension and a hearing before the council was expected last week. However, the reinstatement rendered that hearing moot.

The Sept. 5 meeting was the latest in a string of council meetings moved to the Events Center due to large crowds, made up mostly of Couch supporters. Several meetings have erupted with shouting from some in the audiences chastising the council and city officials for what they see as feet dragging.

But, the crowd that night was more subdued and there were few outbursts.

This divisive matter dates back to June. There have been several executive sessions and special meetings regarding the issue that has sparked ongoing frustration and anger from many in the community who believe Couch has been wronged by the city.

It has also spawned a movement from Couch supporters to install blue and white pro-Couch signs in their yards.

In addition, as a result of the controversy, Partington retired and Ward 2 Councilman Wayne Henneke resigned, both citing personnel nasty and belligerent comments directed at them and their families.