Archive for Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Police review board possible

FBI inquiry raises concerns among city commissioners

June 21, 2006

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The Lawrence Police Department needs to be more open. And more oversight wouldn't hurt, either.

That's according to some Lawrence city commissioners.

"They are not forthcoming," Commissioner Mike Rundle said. "We need a genuine partnership."

Commissioners say that in general and for some time, the department has been less than open about providing information, causing growing concern that the police and public they are responsible for protecting don't communicate often or well enough.

The latest concern follows news last week of an FBI inquiry into allegations that Lawrence Police officers might have presented themselves as FBI agents in the course of the department's ongoing investigation of an alleged fencing operation at Yellow House, a secondhand store at 1904 Mass.

Rundle and other city commissioners said they would be willing to reconsider a citizen review board with broader powers to handle concerns.

"It's simply time to have such a mechanism in Lawrence," Rundle said.

Commissioner Boog Highberger suggested a similar idea during his tenure as mayor, saying there was a certain level of "distrust" among some members of the community.

"I think we need some mechanism outside the direct control of the police department to give citizens assurances about our police department," Highberger said in August 2005.

Broadening powers

Rundle said he recently received feedback from leaders from other cities that have similar panels and came away convinced a review board would provide the kind of oversight all police departments need.

Lawrence city leaders already have discussed broadening the powers of the existing citizen advisory board.

That board is responsible for developing the city's racial profiling policy and is in place only because state law requires it, city leaders said.

"That may be something we want to talk about," Mayor Mike Amyx said of broadening the current board's powers.

Police Sgt. Dan Ward said the department already had well-defined complaint processes in place and that a year-end report detailing complaints and findings from internal investigations is presented to the City Commission.

"Corrective action is taken whenever appropriate," Ward said of the process.

He said the department was aware of its responsibility to the people of Lawrence.

Ward referred all questions regarding the need for a more powerful citizen advisory board to Chief Ron Olin, who was out of town and couldn't be contacted.

But before the City Commission decides on any possible changes to the current board, Amyx said he would want a clear understanding of what the board could and could not query the department about.

For example, Amyx said, it often is difficult to glean information about ongoing investigations because of the sensitive or classified nature of the material.

"I would want to know exactly what we would be asking the board to do," he said.

Commissioner David Schauner also said a review board's duties would need to be carefully defined. A board with broad investigative powers could complicate police work and hamper investigations.

"It sounds simple, but I'm sure it's much more complicated," Schauner said.

But Schauner said if the police department enacted a more community-friendly policing model, the lines of communication between police and the public would be better.

"I don't think they've implemented much in community policing yet," Schauner said. "I suspect that includes making more info available in a timely way."

Measuring performance

Rundle also said all city departments were shifting toward a new performance measurement model that should increase the police department's self-examination and the sharing of more information with the community.

The performance management model includes specific department goals and audits to ensure those goals are met.

As the shift toward performance management standards progresses, Amyx said he wanted to have a clear understanding of what kinds of information city departments were going to provide, including the police department.

"I would assume if we're going to put performance management in place, it would include all departments," Amyx said.

Ward said the police department is working on implementing that system.

"All city departments, as well as the police department, are currently working to develop new performance measurements as a way to determine effectiveness, efficiency and workloads," Ward said.

Comments

NotASquishHead 8 years, 10 months ago

Anyone notice anything interesting about this article? Who is the only City Commissioner that wasn't interviewed? Let me help you... Sue Hack... Interesting that she is the most out spoken against a review board and also the most supportive of the police.

Nice spin LJW. How 'bout you right an article supporting the police and the hard work they do every once in a while. Those guys and gals do a job that most people are to scared or mentally unstable enough to do.

xenophonschild 8 years, 10 months ago

Most LPD officers are good professionals, but there is always the possibility that a brown-shirt inclined toward fascism might sneak in ruin things for everyone.

Procedures and contingencies need to be in place to ensure that the police and citizens can trust and communicate with each other, and that the police, as a public, tax-payer supported agency, are properly responsive.

Sigmund 8 years, 10 months ago

How about a City Kommission review board? There is some "corrective action" I would like to initiate with respect to the SLT, the WalMat fiasco, and the never ending bans. Seems to me if any government body needs to be micro-managed, I mean "oversight", its the PLC not the LPD.

lunacydetector 8 years, 10 months ago

here, here sigmund......

i have never had a problem with the lawrence police department, but i don't break the law.

i think the lawrence police department needs to increase in size. i've heard we have less cops per capita than other communities our size - including the sherriff's department.

instead of building $900,000 roundabouts for their aesthetic appeal, why not hire more cops?

a citizens review board? who are these citizens who complain? i'd like to hear how they've been mistreated.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 8 years, 10 months ago

"How about a City Kommission review board?"

Um, there's this little thing called "elections."

"instead of building $900,000 roundabouts for their aesthetic appeal..."

So you're one of the idiots who just stops when you encounter one. Maybe the flowers are pretty, but perhaps you should familiarize yourself with the driving rules involving roundabouts-- both you and the people stuck behind you will be much less irritated, luny.

mutpuppy 8 years, 10 months ago

This is a great idea. There is no reason that the complaints towards the LPD should go to the Head guy over there (DAN WARD), who is also the spokesman.

I'm not even in the legal profession and I know that's a conflict of interst. DUH....

Sandman 8 years, 10 months ago

Criminals making false allegations against the police department is nothing new. Just because they are cops does not make them guilty.

How about this. We wait until the investigation in to these latest allegations (Police impersonating FBI) is complete.

Then we decide if we need a citizen review board.

bankboy119 8 years, 10 months ago

luny,

I don't think Lawrence needs a bigger police department. I haven't been to another town where there are so many cops just sitting around trying to catch speeders in town. If they have enough down time to do that then they need to be doing something more worthwhile than pulling over somebody doing 5 over.

Before some one thinks the somebody is me, I've never had the pleasure of receiving a ticket.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

This idea has been floated before with no action by the commission. The problem is simple, Ron Olin is not out of town, he is OUT OF TOUCH! He ahould be immediately fired and replaced.

The idea of the fox guarding the hen-house (their imagined "complaint process") is ludicrous. It does not work

I presented written proof of violations of police officers to a city comissioner who told me Olin would contact me. Nothing happened. Ron Olin is the problem and should be fired.

The entire force should be evaluated and "cleaned" Officers who have character lack should be fired. In order to get any government job, one must demonstrate responsibility and moral character. This means no marital infidility, family abandonment, personal financial irresponsibility (read "bankrupcy") or any other such shortcomings. No such individuals can work for the federal or other government agencies and most certainly have no place in the police department. And all new officers should be required to have a training course on the U.S. Constitution as it applies to the rights of citizens against unreasonable search and seizure. The Lawrence cops seem to be oblivious of this guaranteed right.
And finally, the city commission has control of the police department, the mechanism for oversight is there. But they do not. I presented my evidence to all 5 comissioners and only one responded. The commission itself is responsible for the loose cannon effect that we presently see in the police department. Don't get me wrong, not all police officers are rotten. But there are some that are and should be immidiately removed. Starting with Ron Olin, PhD.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

For Lunacy Detector

I have a developmentally-disabled 31 year old son that was "railroaded" by over-agressive police officers and the DA. No one accused him in the police reports after an illegal search and seizure of non-relevant "evidence", but they held him in jail until he agreed to a plea bargan. He is now a felon, cannot vote, required to be on the sex-offender list (no trial, just intimigdation and incarceration to force a plea) and cannot get housing he was eligible for as a developmentally-disabled person. This is so wrong from all perspectives and the cops that did this to him are simply thugs and bullies.

mutpuppy 8 years, 10 months ago

frwent.... What happened to your son sounds a lot like what happened to Carrie NEighbors, one of the owners several years back when she was convicted of selling "illegal weapons"...the illegal weapons were the toy throwing stars made out of sheet metal the size of a half dollar coin. The day after her "trial" which was a JOKE they were selling those same little stars at the 4-H grounds 4 for a dollar!!! They even have a hole in one of the points to be worn as a necklace. So many people out there to be so quick to stand up and say "The police haven't done anything wrong to me"...Yet it's only a matter of time and then they too will be wishing there was a review board to keep their A$$es in line. There is no Harm that can come out of a review board except holding low life cops accountable for what they do! If they don't do anything wrong, then they shouldn't have a problem with a review board. When they say they don't want a review board, DO YOU THINK THEY HAVE THE CITIZENS BEST INTEREST AT HEART?

Michael Birch 8 years, 10 months ago

I think a Citizens Review Board is an excellent idea. If

the LPD is right about something and the CRB supports

them, there can be no question that they are right!

Why are they so scared of a CRB if they haven't done

anything wrong? I would think that they would

welcome have one especially if they are really the true

professional law enforcement officers that they claim to

be.

DHD

hk45 8 years, 10 months ago

Why don't we wait until after the FBI probe is complete. If it finds the LPD acted wrong this let there be a review board, if it doesn't then move on and not worry about it. After all, are they not guilty unitl proven otherwise.

As for frwent. Didn't your son have a lawyer who agreed to the plea?

switzerland 8 years, 10 months ago

I agree....a citizen review board is a great idea. I vote for Sarah Swain as the chairperson.

fiveohtr 8 years, 10 months ago

I'll second that vote. Pink suits as our uniform.

Justice_For_All 8 years, 10 months ago

Name one person out there who has no one or no thing to answer to. Some of you police officers who spend your mornings blogging seem to think that any kind of oversight is bad. Well, of course it's bad for you!!!!! You will have to start following the rules. boo hoo.......If the rest of us don't follow the rules, we get arrested. If the cops don't follow the rules, they get promoted. There is definitely something wrong with that. Good job, City Commission. Don't let these cops continue to fester.

mutpuppy 8 years, 10 months ago

It's stupid to wait and see what the FBI turns up to decide weather they need a review board. Why do they have to get busted doing something bad until we put a review board in place. Preventative measures are the best and they cover everyones butt.

lunacydetector 8 years, 10 months ago

the homeless committee (whatever they were/are called) were full of homeless people. would the police citizens review board be comprised of some criminals? *of course not

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 10 months ago

enforcer, why should officers' personnel files be made public? That doesn't even make sense.

compmd 8 years, 10 months ago

I had an annoying run in with an LPD officer once. I was driving my old diesel benz, and had just gotten back from a long trip. There was some soot on the license plate making it dirty. I got stopped, and when I gave the cop my DL and insurance, he demanded to see the registration as well. He proceeded to examine the VIN and compare it against my paperwork. Finally he asked me to open my door to read the pillar badges, and that's when I asked about probable cause. he went back to his car for 30 mins and gave me a ticket for an obstructed tag. I complained, met with two sergeants who were very friendly, and had my ticket dismissed. Is a citizen review board a good idea? you bet. but when implemented lets make sure we give it some teeth.

fiveohtr 8 years, 10 months ago

If they don't have anything to hide, why not!!!! Inly the cops that have some thing to hide will be against making their personell file public. Are you feeling scared Wilbur??

Justice_For_All 8 years, 10 months ago

Cops who do their job have nothing to worry about. Instead of asking why, let's ask, why not?

ljlook 8 years, 10 months ago

"Posted by frwent (anonymous) on June 21, 2006 at 9:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

For Lunacy Detector

I have a developmentally-disabled 31 year old son that was "railroaded" by over-agressive police officers and the DA. No one accused him in the police reports after an illegal search and seizure of non-relevant "evidence", but they held him in jail until he agreed to a plea bargan. He is now a felon, cannot vote, required to be on the sex-offender list (no trial, just intimigdation and incarceration to force a plea) and cannot get housing he was eligible for as a developmentally-disabled person. This is so wrong from all perspectives and the cops that did this to him are simply thugs and bullies."

So, your son ISN'T a sex-offender; that is why he was charged and convicted. Right.

I remember the story on that one.

Anyone who doesn't care to study, smokes dope, and is pretty much stupid can get classified as mentally disabled. And then, when they try to "touch" little kids, they claim mental disability.

And the illegal search and seizure of non-relevant "evidence": let's think about this for a minute.

Evidence was found that show's he's an "offender" (to put that mildly).

But you still proclaim his innocence just because you say the evidence was taken illegally.

However they got the evidence (and I'm not saying it was right to take it without a warrant), it still should show YOU that he IS guilty.

Keep the blinders on, so you can live happy with your offender.

Sandman 8 years, 10 months ago

I love the liberal posts on these boards:

"I was once stopped by an officer who did these crazy things to me. I don't remember the date, the officer, or have proof WHATSOEVER. But I think someone needs to investigate my fantasy."

If they do get a citizen's review board, I hope all you lunatics line up and give them your unfounded claims. Maybe they can see how FRUITY this town is.

fiveohtr 8 years, 10 months ago

Wow, still not response by sandman. Maybe he finally realized what a jackass he is.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

HK45 He had a court appointed lawyer. The DA admitted he did not have much of a case but the lawyer took the plea anyway."Court-Appointed Lawyer" = zilch.

ljlook You are a jerk. you have no knowledge of my son's case, nor his history. You have no concept of the treatment and difficulty that these people face every day. Jerks like you are what make life miserable for folks who are born mentally-ill or develpmentally disabled. Drop dead.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 10 months ago

I saw on the TV news yesterday about the woman at the theater who saw the poor dog suffering from the heat inside that car. She called the police, and they said it took an hour for them to show up. An hour! Why that long?

I'm sure the woman told the dispatcher what the problem was. Maybe they didn't consider it an emergency because it was "only" a dog? Can the LPD be charged with animal cruelty because they didn't show up for this emergency in a timely manner? The woman who owned the dog (from Olathe, by the way) was charged with animal cruelty. Yet the poor dog had to suffer for another hour after police were notified, because they didn't think it was important enough to come right away?

A citizen's police review board sounds like an excellent idea. However, even if they should find cases that weren't handled as they should have been, I'm sure there's always a higher-up somewhere who would make sure they got off the hook, no matter what the review board said.

Sigmund 8 years, 10 months ago

Swain would be the worse possible choice for the CRB. She's a defense attorney and has a conflict of interest. Her first duty is to her client and NOT to the Lawrence community. Doesn't pass the smell or the laugh test.

The police investigate crimes, they do not decide if a case is prosecuted, dismissed, or pled to a lesser. If you have a problem with a conviction, it's the DA you should look at not the police.

fiveohtr 8 years, 10 months ago

I think swain would be an excellent choice. It takes someone with strong convictions to stand up against the lpd, and I believe swain has proven several times over that she has what it takes.

JackKats 8 years, 10 months ago

Just as we have the police to enforce the law by fining, arresting, or warning those who break laws, the police should have a watchdog group making sure they are not running rampant. Many crimes are detoured by a policemans presence or just the thought of the consequences of getting caught. The higher risks of getting caught the bigger the deterent. And why would someone argue against having a watch dog group over the police? Perhaps for the same reason I might argue why I would not want a cop around if I happened to run a red light.

hk45 8 years, 10 months ago

I suggest Citizen Review Boards for every:

Doctor Nurse Lawyer Firefighter Paramedic Mental Health Care Professional Sheriff's office City Commission Members Business Owners Hospitals And more...

That way we all have a place to go complain when something does not go the way we want. A place we can demand justice!!! CRB for all!!!

Sigmund 8 years, 10 months ago

Who will watch the watchdog group? This is a never ending bureaucracy, a terrible idea, and Swain is the LEAST qualified person I can think of to be on the CRB. She hasn't proved she can "stand up to the police", all she has proved is she can run her mouth without producing any proof.

reginafliangie 8 years, 10 months ago

crazyks:

The LPD doesn't respond to dogs in cars unless animal control isn't working. In that case animal control WAS on duty and therefore responded to the dog in the car. There are only a few of them on duty and sometimes they are on one side of the town to get to the other it does take a while. I would really doubt it took an hour but I could be wrong.

roadrunner 8 years, 10 months ago

I don't think anyone here really has any idea of how things work at the police dept. Don't you realize how crazy most of these postings seem. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't. They get blamed for writing too many speeding tickets, but where were they when someone got ran over by the speeding driver. They really can't win any way they go. Most of you still wouldn't be happy even if there was a review board, because I'm sure you will think that someone on the board was being PAID to skew the findings!! I'd like to see any of the whiners do their job for a day. You know, anyone can ride a long with an officer. I encourage it! Maybe you'll think differently if you do.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

ljlook, your hateful post deserves more attention. You have no idea of what happened here. The cops took items not listed on the warrant. Photos of his church friends that the families had given him. They took photos of his brother in his graduation robe. They took a safe with his grandfather's coin collection. They took other family photos. They took greeting cards and thank-you notes to my son for his volunteer work. They took posters from his wall that can be bought at any Wal-Mart. They took photos of a friend of his who is now a U.S.Marine married with a new baby daughter. None of this has been returned. Are you still in favor of the Lawrence Gestapo?? Do you still feel these thugs and bullies deserve respect. You probably do, you seem to think that justice was done here, but most everyone who knows the facts knows that a terrible injustice was done, and the damned cops orchestrated it. Your vicious allegations are without merit, he was not convcted, he was railroaded by cops trying to find another Michael Jackson, who spent 6 months investigating, finding nothing, but spinning their little tale to the DA. Don;t tell me the cops don't convict, they work their sham to get more stars on their evaluations. I am sorry, they violated civil rights and I hope that a civilian board will put the cuffs on these type of violations and rotten cops.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

Oh, yes, I said none of this has been returned. That is wrong. The cops told him they would return his items. They did not. We had to schedule a court hearing to get some of these items returned. They kept some of them. My complaints to officials have gone ignored. Sorry for the inaccurate information in my first post.

Charles L Bloss Jr 8 years, 10 months ago

The city kommissioners are nutz, once again. The last thing a law enforcement agency needs is a bunch of untrained citizens trying to run it's business. It will backfire, and what will be lost is good law enforcement. Assuming, that is, that the liberals even want good law enforcement. Thank you, Lynn

eskimopieinKS 8 years, 10 months ago

Your son can still vote if he lives in KS even though he has been convicted of a felony. The only time you can't vote after you have been convicted of a felony is WHILE YOU ARE IN PRISON. If he is out of prison, he can vote!

yellowhouse 8 years, 10 months ago

I do believe we need the review board. It works great in the foster care system.

I have been a foster parent for 8 years and have gone before many citizen review boards.

They only are there to listen and make recommendations to the judge.

They are the people for the people.

It is a system that works.

It gives everyone a chance to answer questions and give their side of the story. this includes both citizens and police officers involved.

It could also help soften peoples emotions when they feel they have been wronged by the police, therefore possibly ending in fewer lawsuits against our wonderful city.

Terry Jacobsen 8 years, 10 months ago

We don't need a citizens review board. It will just become another politically driven group. They have an internal affairs dept and it does not let cops off the hook. Ask any cop and they can tell you that being investigated by internal affairs is often damaging to your career even if you have done nothing wrong.

By the way... I think Chief Olin has done a fine job as chief and I support our police 100%.

Terry Jacobsen 8 years, 10 months ago

Also, early in the responses to this article someone was critical of Sue Hack. I want you to know that I have known Sue Hack since I was in 7th grade at South Junior High, and she is one of the finest people I know. She is wise and has the best interest of all citizens of Lawrence at heart. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't know her.

justsomewench 8 years, 10 months ago

i second your assessment of sue hack, tj. she was the teacher that inspired me to care about american history and understand how it's shaped our country. i was 13 then, so i was curious to see if my perception of her abilities to gauge the needs of a classroom carried over to a community and i've not been disappointed. either group is a tough crowd and i think she's done admireably. just my $0.02.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 10 months ago

For eskimopieKS. It might be too late for you to see this. I was not aware of the information you posted and I will check up on it. My son has never been in prison, although several cops tried, in fact has never been in any type of trouble before. He was railroaded pure and simple and I have it on paper. But I thank you for your post, we will most certainly check it out.

nekansan 8 years, 10 months ago

Funny how the star witness in this case can't seem to find the business card that the "FBI" agent gave her. Or remember the exact date. Or the name of even one of the individuals she traveled with. What the badge said? The type of license plate or county/state of issue on the vehicle? Does the LPD even have any dark blue SUVs? And since when are parolees told not to cooperate with law enforcement? See where I'm going here:. There is not a single credible detail to support the claim that this was a LPD officer acting as a FBI agent. Doesn't anyone else also find it funny that this investigation is being handled by the US Attorney's office, not the LPD or the local DA? That would certainly indicate to me that we are talking a federal case and the involvement of the FBI would not be out of the question. Everyone seems so ready to jump on the LPD, but from what is publicly available NOTHING indicates they have done anything even remotely wrong in this case. All you have is a parolee who says someone identified themselves as FBI and took them to the LPD for questioning, and then at the very end of their statement claims that, Oh Yea, I think they were Lawrence PD. Yea, that's the ticket. This whole thing sound like guilty clients trying to do ANYTHING they can to draw attention away from them and build a defense for when this case does go to trial. I guess time will tell, but I know where I'd place my bets. I'm also amused how the FBI went from savior coming to rescue the city from the LPD to evil law enforcement agency that is as corrupt as all the rest in one day. I guess it's all about what serves the conspiracy theory of the moment.

Justice_For_All 8 years, 10 months ago

Innocent until proven guilty.......anyone here remember a little thing called the Constitution? And by the way, nekansan, all that we are asking for is an investigation. LPD is innocent until proven guilty, but they shouldn't get away with this without some kind of investigation.

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 10 months ago

When I challenged the idea that police officers' personnel files should be a matter of public record, fivohtr responded: "If they don't have anything to hide, why not!!!! Inly the cops that have some thing to hide will be against making their personell file public. Are you feeling scared Wilbur??"

Only of the idea that this populist nonsense will take hold. I'm not in the law enforcement game, but if I were I would still be against it. And I have never had an employee take disciplinary action against me. The personnel file contains confidential information that is between the employee and the employer. If the "public good" demands that a police officer employment file be public record, where does it stop? Can I have the police department's administrative assistant files be opened, too? Should an airline pilot's personnel file be public record because (s)he flies around with several score souls on board? What about the guy on the production line out at Brown Van? You know, that vehicle he's working on doesn't drive itself around--it will carry real people with real lives, and will be on the road around other real people, maybe even your kids!

Come on. Be reasonable. You don't have a right to anyone else's personnel file, period. The information is very personal, highly confidential, and honestly, it is in-your-face none-of-your-business.

cronk 8 years, 10 months ago

Yep, the Lawrence police dept. is at it again harassing the yellow house store customers with the same old song and dance "help us sell them stolen property or you will be facing federal charges for your role.What role is that, why would the yellow house need these people to have a roll.After 8 months do you think some one really would help the police set up the yellow house store, and if someone agreed to help the police the person would have to tell the owner where the item came from, show I.D and sign the paper work stating the item is not stolen, No exception everyone who sells anything is ask to fill out the same kind of paper work like the pawn shop.The only way to make a fencing charge stick is to have recording of the transaction where the buyer is told the item is stolen and said buyer buys the item anyway.I wonder why the audio the police recorded when then paid Russ williams in to set the business up in Dec.2nd was never used to get the charges filed, could it have been because the owner asked at least 3 times if the item were stolen and the owner informed Mr. williams if the items were stolen the business could not buy them. Entrapment hum i think so.

Could the police be turning up the heat because they know the owners have submitted a formal request asking the city commission to call for a investigation into the police misconduct. Being that the commission feels a review board should be formed one would think they feel something is not right. If the police could not prove what they said in Dec. about the business finding one thing in the store with issues will not show the yellow house in the largest fencing operation ever in lawrence, so one would wonder what is the goal behind harassing the yellow house store customers.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 5 months ago

we don't have a police review board yet do we ?

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