Archive for Saturday, June 7, 2003

Report rejects fired officer’s claims

June 7, 2003


There is no evidence to support a fired officer's allegation the Lawrence Police Department leaked sensitive information to drug dealers, according to a report made public Friday.

Instead, the report by Kansas University Law School Dean Stephen McAllister showed Officer Stuart "Mike" Peck was himself reprimanded in 2002 for alerting drug dealers they were under investigation.

That reprimand came nearly two months before Peck's suspension in January, after a judge ruled Peck had lied to obtain a search warrant in a drug case.

"It is clear from a variety of police department documents, as well as my interviews with various supervisors and detectives, that concerns were being raised about Peck's performance at least as early as summer 2002," McAllister wrote in his report.

Peck told the Journal-World on Friday that he warned a drug dealer about the illegal activities -- but didn't know the dealer actually sold drugs to investigators. Peck said he was trying to scare the dealer out of business.

"I didn't know he was selling to the drug unit," Peck said. "They're trying to make it like I was tipping off drug dealers, and that's not the case."

City officials said they were satisfied with McAllister's investigation.

"I think it was a very good report," Mayor David Dunfield said.

'Wrong person'

Peck said he wasn't surprised McAllister's investigation didn't turn out in his favor.

"Isn't that convenient?" Peck said. "They picked the wrong person to do the investigation instead of turning it over to the KBI."

Report on official investigation of Mike Peck's allegations:¢ Page 1¢ Page 2¢ Page 3¢ Page 4¢ Page 5¢ Page 6¢ Page 7¢ Page 8¢ Page 9¢ Page 10¢ Page 11¢ Page 12¢ Page 13

Assistant City Manager David Corliss said McAllister was an appropriate choice to perform the investigation into Peck's allegations.

"We knew Dean McAllister would provide a knowledgeable and thorough investigation of the allegations," Corliss said. "We didn't deem it appropriate to refer to a law enforcement agency with the information we had at this time."

McAllister began his investigation in March, after City Manager Mike Wildgen upheld the February firing of Peck, 39. At least 28 criminal cases have been dismissed after Douglas County District Judge Mike Malone ruled in January that Peck lied to obtain a search warrant in a drug case.

The report was dated May 21. It was released to reporters just before the close of business Friday at City Hall.

In the report, McAllister said he investigated four allegations made by Peck:

l That someone in the Police Department had released drug investigation information to "those involved in illegal drug activity" in Lawrence.

l That an employee of the Drug Enforcement Unit -- which is staffed by Lawrence Police and the Douglas County Sheriff -- had a relationship with a confidential drug informant used by Peck.

l That members of the Drug Enforcement Unit conspired to destroy Peck's career.

l That Peck's supervisors approved all his actions as an officer.

Suspicious motives

McAllister interviewed Peck and his informant, as well as Police Chief Ron Olin and "numerous" police officers involved in drug investigations.

The report said Peck and the informant identified the head of the Drug Enforcement Unit -- Police Sgt. Tarik Khatib -- as the possible leak within the department.

McAllister rejected the assertion.

"Both Peck and his CI (confidential informant) may have motives to attempt to discredit this particular officer," McAllister wrote.

He said the informant tried to get Khatib to pay him for information on illegal drug activity, which Khatib refused to do. And Khatib assisted Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick in the investigation that led to Peck's reprimand for alerting the drug dealer.

"No one other than Peck and the CI volunteered anything other than complete trust in and respect for" Khatib, McAllister wrote. "And I formed the same impression in the course of my interviews with him."

And McAllister said Peck and the confidential informant alleged a drug dealer boasted of having access to the Drug Enforcement Unit's computers.

But McAllister said the unit's computers don't have outside connections. The officers don't allow others to enter their office, McAllister said, not even janitorial staff.

"Thus, I conclude ... that external access to DEU computers and information is simply impossible," McAllister wrote.

McAllister acknowledged the sister of a Drug Enforcement Unit employee had a long-term relationship with Peck's confidential informant. But McAllister called the issue a "red herring."

"Even the CI indicated quite clearly that (the employee) never had provided him with any information regarding anything to do with the DEU, nor would she," McAllister wrote.

McAllister also dismissed the conspiracy claim, saying there was "no substantial evidence" to buttress Peck's allegation.

Changes needed

It was in Peck's final allegation -- that his supervisors signed off on the police reports and affidavits in the cases which were dismissed -- that McAllister found reason for mild criticism of the department.

McAllister said Peck's superiors trusted him to be truthful in reports and affidavits; it is practically impossible for them to double-check an officer's work, he said.

"To a great extent, the supervisors do and necessarily must trust the truthfulness of the patrol officers they supervise," McAllister wrote.

But McAllister found the Lawrence Police Department had no policy in place governing the use of confidential informants, like the one used by Peck. As a result, different investigators and supervisors used different methods.

McAllister recommended a policy be developed for such situations. That doesn't let Peck off the hook, however.

"It does not appear that these factors caused the problems that arose with respect to Peck, and which led to his termination," McAllister wrote.

Police put in place a policy on confidential informants after Peck's ouster. The proposed rules would prohibit officers lending informants money or interacting with them while off duty.

The rules also would require a photograph of the informant, a written agreement and a background check to be included in the person's departmental file.


Peck said Friday that he was frustrated with the outcome of the report.

"If anything I'm to fault for, it's that I was too aggressive," he said. "I did my job, and I did it hard, but I did it right. I know in my mind I did it right."

Peck said a policy on confidential informants would have helped him.

"How can they say I did something wrong in handling this informant when they didn't even have a policy?" he said.

And he again maintained he never lied in the search warrant affidavit that led to his firing.

"I stand by completely what I wrote," he said. "I know I didn't lie. I didn't lie in this whole investigation, and that's what's frustrating."

Olin was out of the country and unavailable for comment Friday. Pattrick referred questions to the city manager's office for comment.

Other officials said they continued to have confidence in the Police Department.

"Always have," Corliss said. "That's not just me. That's everybody up here."

Dunfield agreed.

"It indicated some areas where police procedures could be improved," he said of McAllister's report. "But the fundamental issues were clear, and basically supported the Police Department's actions."

Peck, however, said his career has been ruined. He declined to say whether he was contemplating legal action against the city.

"My prospects for finding another career in police work, which is all I've ever done, are going to be pretty hard," he said.

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