Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Police Supervision an Internal Matter

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Police Supervision an Internal Matter

Article excerpt

The move to hire a Topeka police chief from within the department was debated vigorously.

For good reason.

The Sept. 28 shooting death of Dominique White by two Topeka officers in East Topeka rocked whatever faith the community had in the department.

What transpired was a litany of evasive techniques after the White family's attorney said the city initially agreed to let the shooting victim's parent view the body camera footage, but later decided against doing so while citing Kansas law, which only required city officials to show the footage to the court-appointed executor of White's estate.

Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay concluded the officers were justified in the shooting and determined they will not face criminal charges, though the possibility exists for a lawsuit to be filed against the city over White's death.

This is the backdrop from which a 31-year veteran of the Topeka police department, Bill Cochran, accepted the promotion to police chief on Friday. He was selected over two external candidates, D. Samuel Dotson, of St. Louis, and Dominic Rizzi Jr., of Yakima, Wash.

The decision to hire Cochran was apparently based, in part, on the desire to expedite the transition. Cochran was already named to the position of interim chief in November after working at the TPD since 1987. He has worked in many capacities, including homicide detective and bureau commander. Cochran becomes the third Topeka police chief in 15 months.

All of that transition creates a need for the department to regain steady oversight, which could be another positive derived from an internal hire. Cochran has seen firsthand the administrative upheaval, and can also tap into a lengthy background regarding department policy.

A knowledgeable insider could boost morale in the department, if officers are encouraged that one of their own was deemed capable of leading the force. …

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