I have been watching with interest along with Great Benders as the most recent controversy involving Police Chief Couch has unfolded. In an Aug. 6 letter to the Great Bend Tribune, Leslie Barrett laid out a very fine explanation and defense on behalf of Chief Couch. That was three weeks ago, ample time for the city administrator and City Council to have responded.
Also during this period, blue and white signs in support of the police chief have popped up like sunflowers all over town. But I have not seen a single sign to support the city administrator, nor of the action against the police chief taken by the city council. A score of a 1,000 to zero tells even the casual observer something. Granted, it must be humiliating for city council members to have go around town and see blue and white signs all over town. Yes, it must be difficult for one’s pride. But have they thought of all the pain and suffering they have brought upon not only the police chief, but also his family?
Chief Couch, charged with the mission to serve and protect the citizens of Great Bend, obviously has GREAT SUPPORT from the very people he is to protect. Does not the voice of the people most affected by the city council’s actions, other than the chief and his family, count? Do they not have a voice? And is the city council, accountable to Great Benders, listening?
On Aug. 18 many Great Benders made time to attend a meeting in the aftermath of the city administrator’s resignation, which was soon followed by another resignation. These resignations should have resolved the whole matter. But phenomenally, not enough council members showed up to even meet quorum! Their inaction in the face of a clear path forward spoke LOUD AND CLEAR.
Another council meeting was held on Aug. 21. Maybe 1,000 Great Benders showed up. After some business, a retired GB police officer got up to deliver a magnificent speech in favor of Great Bend’s police force and its chief to a standing ovation. What a golden opportunity for the city council to finally respond to the people who were so respectfully attending. In a stunning display of elitist arrogance, the city council instead adjourned the meeting and defiantly turned on their heels to walk out on the multitude of Great Benders peacefully assembled!!
What is the path ahead? In the wake of the resignations, it would seem appropriate that the right thing to do is to reinstate the police chief to his rightful position that he may serve the people for which he was hired. But if the city council does not want to take that logical step, then an independent arbiter should be appointed. Key word is INDEPENDENT.
Definitely a blatant disrespect for the people of Great Bend demonstrated by the city council in the Aug. 21 meeting should disqualify them from representing the people of Great Bend on this matter. Obviously, the first option is reasonable, logical and practical. Is it obvious to the city council? The city council has a golden opportunity to walk away saying they did the right thing. Let’s hope so.