Sedgwick County Sheriff, Wichita PD expect busy few weeks of protests ahead of primary election

Momentum is building for the state constitutional amendment vote, a little more than one month away.
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 7:44 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Momentum is building for the state constitutional amendment vote, a little more than one month away. It follows the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, bringing more attention to the issue with abortion rights in states’ hands. TV ads and yard signs are becoming more frequent sights and there’s going to be much more to come before Aug. 2 when Kansas voters will decide whether the right to an abortion is protected by the Kansas constitution. The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and Wichita Police Department expect a busy few weeks of protests before the primary election.

Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter said his department is not taking sides and their main goal is to allow people to gather peacefully and express their views. He updated the Sedgwick County Board Tuesday morning and said the sheriff’s office and Wichita police are working to coordinate their efforts.

Since Friday, Easter said they’ve seen daily protests in Wichita over the Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights. Monday afternoon, more than 300 people gathered outside City Hall for a “Vote No” rally against the constitutional amendment Kansas voters will see on Aug. 2. Easter said there were also some from the “Vote Yes” side, in favor of the amendment.

“(I) was called because there was a couple of instances of someone driving through, having opposing views and a water bottle was thrown and stuff like that,” Easter said.

With the national attention the ballot issue in Kansas is getting, Easter said his department and Wichita police are monitoring for any large protests that might be planned.

“Prefer to know ahead of time so that we can get staffing correct and resources there in case there are issues,” the sheriff said.

He said the main step the sheriff’s office is taking is coordinating with Wichita police and laying out plans should there be a need for more staff or other responses like traffic control. This cooperation comes from lessons learned during protests a couple years ago.

“All of our deputies and police officers with the city of Wichita are all trained the same now when it comes to civil disobedience and riot training, those types of things,” Easter said.

He said one of the challenges is learning about these protests, so he’s asking organizers to reach out to law enforcement ahead of time

“Where it’s goin got be at, what time, those types of things, he said. “It’s not for us to interfere with it but it’s also for us to know how to keep them safe.”

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