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Archive for Sunday, December 11, 2011

Local law enforcement agencies withhold information on citizen complaints

KU, Douglas County sheriff, Eudora deny access to most information; Baldwin City provides data

December 11, 2011, 10:18 p.m. Updated December 12, 2011, 12:43 p.m.

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Summary of Journal-World investigation into police conduct

• All law enforcement entities in the county — Lawrence, Eudora and Baldwin City police, as well as the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and KU Public Safety — were asked for the investigative files of complaints against officers since 2008.

• The full reports of cases were denied, but summaries of complaints were provided.

• A search of federal civil cases show that the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office have been defendants in several lawsuits alleging violations of civil rights over the years, but all of those cases were dismissed by judges.

• Only two officers in the departments examined have ever been decertified by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training — which is the state agency that certifies police officers. The two cases involved Lawrence Police officers involved in high-profile criminal cases — former officer Robert Sayler, who was convicted on 14 counts of federal wire fraud in 2009, and former officer Richard Jump, convicted of rape in 1999.

Related document

Summary of KU Public Safety complaints ( .PDF )

The Journal-World recently filed open records requests with several local law enforcement agencies asking for documents detailing citizen complaints against officers.

For the past two years, a similar request to the Lawrence Police Department has been denied, though case summaries were provided.

Here’s how the other local agencies responded to our request:

• Douglas County Sheriff’s Office: Denied request, but provided — at no cost — brief case summaries of the 19 complaints it has received since 2008. Only three of the complaints have been “sustained.”

• Kansas University Department of Public Safety: Denied request, but provided — at a cost of $132.14 — brief case summaries of the three complaints it has received since 2008. Two of those were not sustained, while a third was referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office because of alleged misconduct during a federal case. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he had no information about the complaint, and KU did not respond to questions about further details.

• Eudora Police Department: Provided summaries of nine complaints since 2008, at no cost, but did not provide the full investigative files. Two of the nine complaints were "founded."

• Baldwin City Police Department: Had received one complaint, and provided — at no cost — a document detailing the allegation and disciplinary action taken against the officer.

The agencies denied the Journal-World’s full request on grounds that such records fall under an exemption in Kansas Open Records law for “personnel” records. However, the exemption is listed under the statute’s discretionary section. That is, it’s up to each agency to determine whether to release the information.

Peter Curran, the attorney who handled the records request for the sheriff’s office, said releasing the entire investigatory files on the cases “would substantially adversely affect investigations.”

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib made similar statements about his department’s decision not to release the full investigative reports.

“I think the focus within the organization would turn to ‘not getting caught,’ or ‘don’t make any mistakes,’ rather than recognition that mistakes will happen, be honest and upfront with what one did, and the situation will be handled appropriately,” Khatib said.

Whether such records, which are sometimes referred to as internal affairs documents, should be public has been contested in several states across the country.

For instance, in New Mexico, the legal battle filtered up to the state’s Supreme Court. In a 2011 case, the New Mexico State Supreme Court ruled that the records are public, ordering the New Mexico Department of Public Safety to release such records.

Citizens can make formal complaints against law enforcement officers or departments in a variety of ways, such as in person or on the department’s website.

—Reporter Shaun Hittle can be reached at 832-7173. Follow him at Twitter.com/shaunhittle.

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Complaints against the Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Graphic depicts the disposition of complaints made against the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. Information provided by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

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Complaints against Lawrence Police

This graph shows the the disposition of complaints made against the Lawrence Police Department.

Comments

Flap Doodle 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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thebigspoon 2 years, 4 months ago

Question for the LJW: why are you so interested in getting these rcords on people who have not been charged with crimes, but refuse (generally, as you so often put it) to publish the names of anyone not a cop who is implicated in a crime. Not trying top be argumentative, but I see little difference.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 4 months ago

Of course they are not going to give out information.l The "internal investigations unit" is a joke. The fox watching the hen house.

I submitted a complaint with documented evidence and was told by the last police chief that my concerns (which were clearly documented and evident of police incompetance)were unfounded. Ron Olin was clearly covering for the misconduct of two officers that was documented in the police records. I do not expect much different from the current chief, as he was a consort of the last one.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 4 months ago

WOW !!! Lot's of comments removed from this thread. I don't know what was said, but I'm guessing someone needed to take a chill pill.

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Jayhawk1958 2 years, 4 months ago

SHould have taken Peloi as well.

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bootlegger 2 years, 4 months ago

Chiefs coach haley got fired today; now thats a good thing..

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Ricky_Vaughn 2 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like a lot like sports organizations that "handle things internally". Penn State?

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BlackVelvet 2 years, 4 months ago

I think that tracey_gold has a stuttering problem.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

Kinda looking forward to the collapse of the USA which is right around the corner. Then all you cop haters can rejoice because most of them will be hiding out in the woods or hiding the fact that they were cops from all the chaos in every single city and town on this continent.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

Kinda looking forward to the collapse of the USA which is right around the corner. Then all you cop haters can rejoice because most of them will be hiding out in the woods or hiding the fact that they were cops from all the chaos in every single city and town on this continent.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

Kinda looking forward to the collapse of the USA which is right around the corner. Then all you cop haters can rejoice because most of them will be hiding out in the woods or hiding the fact that they were cops from all the chaos in every single city and town on this continent.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

Kinda looking forward to the collapse of the USA which is right around the corner. Then all you cop haters can rejoice because most of them will be hiding out in the woods or hiding the fact that they were cops from all the chaos in every single city and town on this continent.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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tracey_gold 2 years, 4 months ago

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Alexander Smith 2 years, 4 months ago

Well I think its bunch of crap. I support police and what they do for us. However, I grew up around cops all my life and I can tell you most cops do NOT uphold their oath when they know they can't get busted. Its amazing how many cops break laws and do so because they can get away with it.

The Lawrence already has a reputation of less then shining reputation for ethical behavior. A few years ago, the Lawrence Police set up a speed trap behind a school zone warning sign that was hidden behind trees until you were right next to it. They would clock you at least 50 feet or more before the zone and right you a ticket for it. I was one of them, I went to the police station to ask general rules about speed zones..well the officer was there and he came out and was a real A whole about it and I was just asking simple questions with no negative tones. He even went through the motions on when he clocked me..which gave away the fact that he clocked me at a legal speed before the zone and had applied it as if I was doing the speed in teh zone.

Also.. as a FYI to those, if you ever get a speeding ticket and suspect it was wrong. You can require the officer to prove that the radar gun when the gun was calibrated last. In Iowa they have to have a certificate in the car. People don't relize that radar guns go out of calibration OFTEN and its not uncommon for officers to use that to their advantage when quotes are not met.

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Armored_One 2 years, 4 months ago

I wonder how many of the people that make the complaints complain that there is "never a cop around when you need one".

Also wonder if those same people would cheer the same officer arresting someone that was assaulting them, or breaking into their house or car.

Personally, I am glad there is a strong police presence in Lawrence. I've actually thanked officers for giving me the very rare speeding ticket. It's not their fault I was speeding and all they are doing is their job. A job that no one seems to appreciate until they find themselves in a spot that needs a cop to be present.

I'm sure there are bound to be jerkwads that get a badge and let it go to their heads. That can happen in any position of any type of job.

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gl0ckUser 2 years, 4 months ago

wow.......2005 and 2006 that's about the time the YH stuff was main stream !

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skinny 2 years, 4 months ago

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 4 months ago

“I think the focus within the organization would turn to ‘not getting caught,’ or ‘don’t make any mistakes,’ rather than recognition that mistakes will happen, be honest and upfront with what one did, and the situation will be handled appropriately,” Khatib said.

Ahhhh, excuse me but isn't it a better policy to "don't make any mistakes" than to "handle appropriately?" Business as usual at the LPD!

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jimroberts 2 years, 4 months ago

First, how does a file photograph of a press conference involving a cockfighting ring have anything to do with this story??? The JW students would have been better off putting up a picture of Jennifer Anniston that would have equal relevance.

Secondly, I'm all for the complaint files being open to the public. This would include publicly naming all of the accusers as well as how many complaints they have filed over the years. I believe the public would see a direct correlation with the number of complaints each year.

Thirdly, I am all for the police department naming officers publicly when the complaint is sustained; however, I am against naming the names of officers when the complaints are exonerated. People will complain on officers just to be vindictive to see their names published in a negative manner.

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goodcountrypeople 2 years, 4 months ago

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Oldsoul 2 years, 4 months ago

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