Sedgwick County Sheriff emphasizes mental health one year after death of deputy

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sept. 16 marks on year since the tragic death of Sedgwick County Deputy Robert Kunze.

Kunze left behind a wife and a young daughter and dozens of deputies who considered him family.

Kunze was killed in the line of duty while confronting a suspect in west Sedgwick County.

“I don’t think you ever fully heal from losing a family member,” says Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter.

Deputy Kunze will always be remembered as part of the family at the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office.

“More so his sense of humor, the type of absolute professional deputy he was,” says Easter. “We miss his smile. He had a wicked sense of humor. We miss all that.”

Following his death, Deputy Kunze’s funeral was attended by hundreds of people from law enforcement and many more outside of law enforcement. Sheriff Easter says they have still not fully recovered from losing their brother in blue.

“Our heart still goes out to them, and we tell them all the time, whatever you need, you are part of the family, and we are here,” Easter says.

Kunzes presence is missed, but he is still showing up in a way that Sheriff Easter says is helping more deputies deal with mental health.

“This is something that has to be taught on a regular basis so that deputies understand, and we understand as a command staff, that this is important. We have got to train on this because it is the livelihood of the deputies,” Easter says.

The sheriff says they are doing more than they ever have to make sure deputies who still, a day later, had to be back on the streets are okay, and their mental health is in fact healthy.

“The resiliency training. The peer support stuff we are looking at. We’ve started sending about five to six people to trainings to bring that information back here to start instituting at the training level, the academy level. Just like when my brother was killed, people would say there will something good out of it. For the sheriffs office, I think this is the good that will come out of the tragedy we experienced,” Easter says.

A tragedy the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office will never forget and a hero who will always be remembered for what he has given back to his fellow deputies.

“I have never seen support as much and continued support since Deputy Kunze died,” Easter says.

Sheriff Easter says Monday all deputies will be wearing black bands around their badges to honor Deputy Robert Kunze.

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