It was around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 21, and as Art Lohrengel turned around in a church parking lot, he noticed a Wichita police car. It was parked next to a treeline behind the building, he said.
Lohrengel, a 58-year-old owner of Wichita roofing and metal-building businesses, pulled to within about 20 feet of the marked patrol car, which was parked in the shade.
The patrol car windows were up. The officer’s head was tilted forward, his chin down the whole five minutes or so that Lohrengel watched, he said. The officer, wearing sunglasses, never looked up or acknowledged the one-ton diesel that idled nearby, Lohrengel said.
“I thought, ‘This guy’s sleeping,’ ” Lohrengel recalled Tuesday.
He considered waking the officer to make sure he was OK but didn’t want to startle him or make him mad.
“I know not to startle somebody with a gun,” he said.
From inside his truck, Lohrengel took a photo of the cop with his chin down and saved the image.
Lohrengel said he didn’t report the incident to police at the time because it was “just a picture on my phone. I collect stuff like that.”
He shared his experience and his photo after seeing an Eagle article about another incident in which someone took photos of an officer in uniform in a parked patrol vehicle who appeared to be asleep. The Eagle didn’t publish the photos – sent to the newspaper anonymously Sunday – partly because it’s not clear when and where the images were taken and whether they are authentic.
The Police Department will investigate both incidents, department spokesman Officer Charley Davidson said Tuesday.
“If they are proven factual, they will be disciplined,” Davidson said. “And these incidents do not take away from the good work done by our officers every minute of every day.”
The Eagle shared copies of the photos with police to seek comment. Davidson said the department would not provide the names of the officers in the photos.
The department’s Professional Conduct regulation says, “All members of the Department shall remain awake while on-duty, or shall report their inability to do so to a supervisor.”
Before that day, Lohrengel had noticed a patrol car in the same shady spot back in the parking lot of Westside Bible Chapel but wasn’t sure if it was the same one he pulled up to on June 21.
Lohrengel lives near the church. That day, he said, he forgot something at home and turned around in the church parking lot to head back when he noticed the patrol car.