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Friday, September 28, 2012 10:03 PM

Kansas AG talks KBI changes

By CRYSTAL HERBER, Herald Staff Writer

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation might soon make changes hoped to benefit Kansans.

The bureau was among the topics covered by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt when he spoke to area county prosecutors Friday morning in Ottawa. The meeting included a roundtable continuing education discussion that was meant to keep prosecutors up to date on changes with the state’s top law enforcement official’s office.

Some functions of the bureau, Schmidt said, work well, while others needed to be improved upon. Those improvements, he said, stem from a need for additional focus and resources.

Among the potential changes to the KBI, which is a branch of the attorney’s general’s office, Schmidt said, is a new recruiting class. Because of budget shortages, the KBI has not been able to offer a recruiting class for a few years, he said. The new recruiting class is needed, Schmidt said, to help balance the number of retiring agents with new recruits. A date for the class’s official announcement has not yet been set.

“I’m hoping we can remain at least flat in terms of our general agent capacity, maybe even inch up depending on the budget,” he said.

An additional improvement to the bureau, he said, is the hiring of additional digital forensic analysts — experts charged with investigating digital devices. The state has budgeted to increase its number of analysts from one to seven, Schmidt said. For a state the size of Kansas, it’s a more acceptable number, he said.

In addition, the Kansas Legislature’s budget increases facilitated the creation of a Child Victims Unit, the attorney general said, staffed with six senior agents in the four bureau regions across the state.

The KBI is an important tool, Schmidt said, for county prosecutors, and urged those gathered Friday to take advantage of the resources the Bureau offers.

“The bureau is a terrific law enforcement organization that we can all rely on very heavily,” he said, “Particularly those in the smaller jurisdictions. It is an essential element of the public safety in those areas.”

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