Candidates Todd Tiahrt and Mike Pompeo have been sparring over federal funds used by Wichita police in the BTK serial killer case.
At a debate Monday, Tiahrt, a Republican who held the 4th District congressional seat for 16 years until making a failed bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010, defended his use of earmarks while in office by citing the $1 million he secured for the Wichita Police Department to help catch BTK serial killer Dennis Rader.
Pompeo, the incumbent now, responded by saying the money didn’t arrive until after Rader was captured.
Tiahrt said that wasn’t true.
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Deputy Police Chief John Speer, who oversees the Wichita Police Department’s budget, clarified the matter. He said the department did not receive the money until several months after Rader was caught, but that it helped pay for the investigation that led to his capture.
Congress appropriated the earmark and notified the department that it would get the money, Speer said. The money was appropriated as a grant, and the department had to submit expenses for reimbursement.
Rader was caught on Feb. 25, 2005. The grant wasn’t approved until March 18. The department accepted the grant on April 18. It received its first check on July 25, for $85,784. In October, the department received another $36,945.
Additional disbursements from the grant were made to reimburse expenses for the BTK case and other cases, as well as for law enforcement training and equipment, Speer said. The disbursements continued until April 2008.
Speer said he couldn’t say exactly how much of the remaining disbursements were used to cover expenses only for the BTK investigation.
“These funds did not help catch BTK. These funds helped us in funding the expenses associated with the BTK investigation,” Speer said. “And obviously if it would have went on longer, these funds very well may have had a significant impact on the investigative resources that we would have required.”
“The people that caught BTK were the police and investigators that were assigned to that case,” Speer said. “But these funds obviously were beneficial to law enforcement because with these funds we did not have to incur (the expense) as the city since they came in the form of a federal grant.”