By Kim Wilhelm (WICHITA, Kan.)
Five days into the Hawker Beechcraft strike, the machinists union and company are not speaking to each other. The two sides disagree about a proposed three-year contract. While union workers strike outside the entrances to the plant, local law enforcement presence is also there. At peak times, as many as eleven Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County Sheriff's deputies are on strike duty. Officials with both departments say it's a necessary duty but takes their people off the streets.
For Wichita police, that means some beats or neighborhood areas, remain unstaffed.
"We like to have every beat covered every shift if possible," said Sgt. Bruce Watts. "Of course when we have extra duties like this, we have to pull bodies off beats to perform the duties."
For the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Department, staffing the strike means other deputies are working their calls.
"Most of the calls we are receiving might have a little longer response time," said Capt. George Mason.
But both agencies say public safety remains top priority.