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Archive for Sunday, November 6, 2011

Police chief defends keeping details about complaints private

November 6, 2011

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Complaints against Lawrence police

Total complaints, number sustained

2005: 40, 11

2006: 51, 15

2007: 22, 4

2008: 20, 5

2009: 24, 8

2010: 10, 7

2011 (through Oct. 31): 19, 12 (3 open cases)

— Information provided by the Lawrence Police Department

So far this year, the Lawrence Police Department has handled 19 complaints against officers — 12 of which have been sustained, according to Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib. But more specific details about those cases and how the department handled disciplinary action will not be provided, Khatib said. A similar request in 2010 asking for the full reports of the investigations was denied by Lawrence police, citing personnel exemptions in the Kansas Open Records law.

Khatib provided brief case summaries for the 19 complaints investigated by the department this year. The cases included a variety of complaints, such as officers failing to file reports, officers being rude or using inappropriate language during encounters and officers failing to follow traffic rules when on bike patrol.

Only one complaint alleged an officer physically assaulted a citizen, and the officer was “exonerated” during the investigation.

Complaints are reviewed twice a year by city commissioners, and Khatib said he thinks the current procedure — and keeping the reports private — is the right call.

Khatib said that if the full reports were made public, it would hamper openness during the investigation and complaint process.

“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 up-front with what one did, and the situation will be handled appropriately,” Khatib said.

Charles Davis, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri and author of two books on open records, said Khatib, and others across the country who maintain such records shouldn’t be made public, are essentially telling the public to “trust us.”

But without proof, and the full disclosure, there’s a possibility of secrecy and abuse, Davis said.

“We are at their mercy,” Davis said. Such records “go to the heart of police conduct,” and therefore should be open, he said.

Whether the reports about police complaints are open records has been a debated issue across the country. The Lawrence Police Department contends that the records, which it classifies as internal affairs records, are personnel records.

In Kansas, such records fall in the discretionary area of the Kansas Open Records Act, which means they’re not records required to be released, but agencies are also not prohibited by law from releasing them.

In at least one state, New Mexico, the legal battle between whether such records should be public has filtered up to a 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.

Davis said he’s optimistic that as more of the legal disputes over the records are settled, the standard will eventually become opening the records to the public.

Complaints against the Lawrence Police Department have declined in recent years, while the percentage of substantiated complaints has increased. Between 2005 and 2009, complaints averaged 31 per year, with a substantiation rate of 27 percent. Since 2010, there have been 29 complaints, and of the 26 where the investigation has been completed, 19, or 73 percent, have been substantiated.

Citizens can make formal complaints against officers or the department in a variety of ways, such as in person or on the department’s website at police.lawrenceks.org.

Police complaints

Complaints against Lawrence Police Department, Aug. 1, 2010, to July 31, 2011:

2010

• The department was notified of a minor regulatory violation committed by one of our officers. The investigation determined the officer was not aware of the regulation before violating it and subsequently being made aware of it. The officer, however, failed to notify the department of the violation in a timely manner.

The complaint was sustained.

• During an internal investigation of whether an officer failed to take a required report, several other instances of violations of policy were discovered. During the investigation the officer was not fully cooperative with the investigating officers, contrary to department policy.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen advised that he witnessed an officer acting inappropriately while removing a subject from a location where the subject was being banned from. The investigation determined the citizen had not been truthful about the facts of the incident. Witnesses at the scene along with video evidence corroborated the officer’s statement.

The complaint was unfounded.

• A citizen advised an officer almost struck him with his car and was rude. While trying to confront the officer about another matter the citizen approached the officer in his vehicle and thought the officer intentionally tried to hit him with the car. The officer disputed the citizen’s allegation and there were no witnesses or video evidence to determine if the allegation occurred.

The complaint was not sustained.

2011

• A citizen reported that an officer acted inappropriately while handling a conflict among several individuals. The investigation revealed the officer used some terminology that could easily be taken as unprofessional or rude.

The complaint was sustained.

• An officer engaged in a vehicle pursuit which reached high speeds in the downtown area. The violation which initiated the call and pursuit did not warrant the speeds driven by the officer.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen reported that an officer failed to properly investigate a battery. Investigation revealed that the case was properly documented and investigated to the extent possible.

The officer was exonerated.

• A citizen reported that the citizen was not treated fairly and officers did not properly investigate a dispute the citizen had with other another group. The original allegations were not sustained, but investigation revealed that an officer failed to document the name of one of the parties involved.

The complaint was not sustained.

• A citizen reported officers did not adequately respond to and handle a domestic dispute. Investigation revealed that the officer should have completed an offense report in relation to this call, but failed to do so.

The complaint was sustained.

• Contrary to policy, an officer did not cooperate with an investigation regarding work performance.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen observed an officer ride a police bicycle contrary to the traffic code without an emergency reason to do so. Investigation revealed the citizen’s allegations were correct.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen complained that officers did not have a valid reason for contacting the citizen. Investigation revealed the officers properly responded to the reported disturbance and the contact was appropriate.

The officers were exonerated.

An investigation into the interaction between two officers revealed unprofessional conduct.

The complaint was sustained.

•A citizen reported that an officer stopped the citizen based upon the citizen’s race/ethnicity. Investigation revealed no racial motivation for the officer’s decision to stop or to cite the citizen.

The officer was exonerated.

• A citizen reported that, without cause to do so, an officer punched the citizen in the face during an arrest. Investigation revealed there was no basis for the allegation.

The officer was exonerated.

• An officer was rude and used profanity in anger toward another officer.

The complaint was sustained.

• An officer failed to properly document and initiate an investigation during a disturbance call.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen reported that an officer was rude and condescending to the citizen during a disturbance call.

The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen complained that an officer was rude and unprofessional during a suspicious activity call.

The complaint was sustained.

• A civilian employee failed to inform the department of a matter that policy required them to do so.

The complaint was sustained.

• Three cases are still open and no further details were provided.

— Information provided by the Lawrence Police Department

Google form

Complaints against police

Comments

Oldsoul 3 years, 1 month ago

The Lawrence cops could not begin to compete with the KU cops in terms of lack of professionalism and secrecy--talk about not filing reports. That's just the sordid beginning of it.Then they try to criminally frame people for having a problem with KU flouting the law.--no problem tampering with evidence either as long as the purpose is to hide KU HR thugs' wrongdoings.

Oldsoul 3 years, 1 month ago

Moreover, KU cops do not even have a complaint procedure, nor do they keep profiling statistics or have a problem with discriminatory harassment by their officers or the KU community.

somebodynew 3 years, 1 month ago

Ah, wish I could stick around to read all of this, but sadly I cannot. Oh well, while I am out I can get more popcorn and soda and settle in later for a long read from the "normal" posters on these kind of things.

nativeson 3 years, 1 month ago

Chief Khatib is a very good man. However, he is continuing to sustain the policy of his predecessor regarding transparancy with the public. Somehow we justify a lack of disclosure about incidents that public has a right to know about with the idea that investigations will be compromised. There is no evidence this will happen, but it sure sounds good.

Food_for_Thought 3 years, 1 month ago

What is everyone so upset about? There's a list on the left side of the screen of all the complaints made since 2010. It gives up enough information to inform us about the incident without exposing the citizen's or the officer's name, both of which are irrelevant. If the citizen's name were made public, it might deter them from reporting in the future, for fear of police or others seeing who complained (and perhaps multiple times), and being treated differently for doing so. Secondly, on the officer's part, if everyone saw what officer was complained on, regardless of whether the complaint was sustained or not, you have people treating him/her differently because of a past complaint. Just because the public isn't getting the "juicy details" to gossip about, doesn't mean that LPD is failing to be "transparent". Even private sector jobs affect the public (consumer) in some way. Should ALL businesses and organizations have a full disclosure of their personnel records? I wonder how many people out there have "skeletons" in their closets, and how many of those skeletons would affect their career if their current or future employers found out about their past misconduct.

kansasredlegs 3 years, 1 month ago

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

Jim Phillips 3 years, 1 month ago

In the past, I would have offered some sort of rebuttal to many of these comments. I finally realized that Ron White is a very wise man.

commonsenselawrence 3 years, 1 month ago

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

labmonkey 3 years, 1 month ago

Police are paid by taxpayer money, hence they are employees of the taxpayer. The employer (the people) should have the full details (sans the citizen's name) of a complaint if it is substained.

Food_for_Thought 3 years, 1 month ago

If taxpayers are the employer, does that mean police only answer to the taxpayer? Does that mean police do not have to answer to those who don't pay taxes? Are those who don't pay taxes privy to the information "granted" to the taxpayer?

RoeDapple 3 years, 1 month ago

Good job Lawrence PD! Extremely low numbers for all that you do!

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

The review boards vary. some are excellent, helpful to the community and to law enforcement. We need to work together, not as adversaries. Your blanket review saying the review boards are anti-law enforcement is not accurate. Anyone who has researched the subject finds that not accurate. Some of the best are best by design. Needs to be done with thought and less knee jerk emotion. We don't want to ignore check or balances or reduce community dialogue. We need a citizen's review board.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

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

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

Was kind of thinking that myself, but you know smitty... dedicated to the cause, not that he knows what direction that cause is heading...

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

And you were given the authority to demand the moderators of this webiste do something at what point??

You just don't like being pointed at and laughed at, not behind your back, but as close to in your face as allowable...

MarcoPogo 3 years, 1 month ago

Objection! Argumentative and long winded! Cut and pastededed!

somebodynew 3 years, 1 month ago

Two thoughts this early morning:

If you want details, then ALL the details need to be released, including the citizens name who made the complaint. Kind of a good for one.... type of thing.

The taxpayer argument: Police officers are taxpayers also (probably more than a lot on this board), so does that mean they work for themselves???? Don't they have some say in this, since they pay taxes ???? To me it is kind of like the Street Department - I pay taxes for streets, but don't have access to complaints filed against their employees and get to see any of their disciplinary action.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Not necessarily.

Police officers are public employees. As such, it seems fine to me to publish the details of the officer's name and the complaint made without also publishing the name of the person who complained.

We should all have all of that information about any public employees.

That's the only way to ensure real transparency.

If the complaints are found invalid, that information should be available as well.

Bob Forer 3 years, 1 month ago

There is merit to the argument of full transparency. However, that argument falls flat on its face when you make an exception for the complaining citizen. Their identity is just as important as the other information. Full disclosure should mean just that--full disclosure. No exceptions.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Why?

Public employees acting as police officers are not identical to private citizens.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

But they are private citizens as well.

Would you enjoy a third party taking exception with your job, and after finding out who you are, they locate your home and proceed to demonstrate their frustrations on your car?

Or house?

Or household pet?

That is exactly what can happen when private details of private citizens are made public. I am NOT comfortable with potentially exposing a young child to a thrown rock just because Daddy pulled over a fool and they took exception to it.

And no, I could care less if you agree. I refuse to put my children in that danger, so I refuse to make someone else put their children in that same danger.

pace 3 years, 1 month ago

I am not interested that all complaints, complainants and parties be identified, that would be chilling on complaints and often unfair on the officers. I would like to know if the sustained complaints were on one officer who has multiple counts of sustained complaints. That type of information should be made available to a Citizens Review Board. I know many complaints are very quickly determined as not "valid". It is dangerous to have no formal resource for complaints except directly to the agency the complaint is against. VERY dangerous. A citizens review board role IS NOT just complaints, it is a conduit for real conversation and cooperation between the Police and the community. It could also help cooperation between different law agencies, the sheriffs office, the courts, the DA's office. The police deserves a voice, the community deserves a voice, the citizens review board enables such voices.

somebodynew 3 years, 1 month ago

One more thing (had another cup of coffee): The CRB.

If I read the article correctly the City Commission reviews all these complaints on a regular basis (twice a year??). These are people (citizens) who were elected to this and other functions. Why do we need to duplicate services ??? If you want a say, run for Commission next time and get elected.

OutlawJHawk 3 years, 1 month ago

So what were the specific punishments in relation to sustained violations. Or is it more like "Well, officer you were wrong. Back to your patrol..."

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, the details of the consequences should also be made easily available.

And, the policies that inform those.

ivalueamerica 3 years, 1 month ago

I can see that as the police are the target of so many why there would be a level of security in the complaints. However, I would feel much more comforted with a citizen review board so it is not just the good ol' boy system that has proven itself not effective time and time again.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

A citizen's review board.

What a great idea!

So what are the qualifications for said position?

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

You must be a citizen in good standing. And Citizen's Review Board members should be rotated out on a regular basis, i.e. annually.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

So, no working knowledge of law enforcement procedures, just be a nice guy or gal.

Gee, THAT makes all the difference.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

Yep. The Board would have access to PD policy and procedures. The Chief of Police would be intimately involved with the Board as well. He could answer any procedural questions-should they arise. Board members would be appointed by the Mayer and City Council. Law enforcement experience is not necessary.

http://www.albanylaw.edu/sub.php?navigation_id=1130 http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/cprb/ http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityAdministration/d/CPRB/index.htm http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Council/Commissions/description.php?bcid=14 https://www.citizenreviewboard.com/

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

One small problem with that one.

Have you ever SEEN the listing of all the requirements, procedures and restrictions on a Lawrence police officer?

We're not talking cliff notes here. Not having a working knowledge will exponentially increase the length of time for any infraction to be assessed and a fitting punishment arrived at.

Isn't this why police departments have... drum roll

Internal Affairs.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

He said Internal Affairs!!!! LOL!!!! The Brother's in Blue watching over their Brothers in Blue?!?! LOL!!!! Do you think we're stupid? Get a grip, foolio.

The New York Times; Nov. 2, 2011 - Experts Say N.Y. Police Dept. Isn’t Policing Itself. "Seven narcotics investigators are convicted of planting drugs on people to meet arrest quotas. Eight current and former patrol officers are charged with smuggling guns into the state. Another is charged with making a false arrest, apparently as a favor for his cousin. Three more are convicted of robbing a perfume warehouse. All these cases involved New York City police officers and unfolded or were resolved in recent months. But beyond the fact of criminal charges against those sworn to protect the public, they all had another thing in common: Each case was uncovered by an outside agency, not the Internal Affairs Bureau of the New York Police Department, the unit responsible for unearthing and investigating officers’ wrongdoing."

The Spokane Review; Nov. 5, 2011 - U.S. marshals take convicted Thompson into custody. "Nearly 50 Spokane police officers saluted convicted Officer Karl F. Thompson Jr. in federal court as U.S. marshals led him away Friday, prompting Mayor Mary Verner and police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick to apologize for their actions. A Yakima jury Wednesday convicted Thompson of using excessive force and lying to cover up his attack on 36-year-old Otto Zehm in 2006."

The Gothamist; Oct. 28, 2011 - Hundreds Of Cops Taunt Prosecutors Outside Court At Ticket-Fixing Indictment. "Hundreds of cops showed up at the steps of the Bronx courthouse to show solidarity with the 16 NYPD officers who will be arraigned today as part of the massive ongoing ticket-fixing scandal. According to the Daily News, many officers—some uniformed, some plain clothed—angrily snarled at Bronx prosecutors as they walked in, calling them "cowards" and "pieces of shoot." One officer told them, "This whole thing is a bunch of bullshoot. They're crucifying us over nothing.""

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

Actually with defamation of character and libel, the burden is on you to defend your position.

For someone that preaches about the law, you definately have little to no working knowledge of it.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, you say that.

My documents are in order as well, but what documents am I talking about?

Unfortunately, I can't use the language I would prefer to describe you, smitty. You'd run and cry to the moderators that the big meanie head Armored_One hurt your precious feelings.

If you had all this "proof", and I that term as loosely as possible, you'd have already done something about it.

If I had a clue as to who you were, I'd call you a liar straight to your face. Instead, you hide behind the anonymity of the Internet and bang your gong til everyone goes deaf from the echoes.

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

You know what would really be helpful in sorting out these complaints, don't you? The Wichita Eagle; Nov 1, 2011 - Wichita police seek to purchase body cameras for officers

"Getting a full video of what actually happens at a crime scene always helps in sorting out the details later.

For that reason, Wichita police Tuesday will ask the City Council to approve the purchase of new body cameras to be used by officers."

http://www.kansas.com/2011/11/01/2085470/police-seek-to-purchase-body-cameras.html

Why is police wearing a camera such a big deal? If you have nothing to hide....

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

Hmmm...

Maybe operational expenses... Maintenance costs... Replacement costs...

Maybe your employer should stick his nose into what you do just as deeply... if you have one

Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

LOL! Officer Friendly doesn't like it when someone suggests oversight of Officer Friendly. Ohh, too bad! We'll hold you accountable, one way or another. Don't worry though! If you have nothing to hide there should be no problems. ROFL! Soon...very soon, your days of thuggery and mischief are over Buford T. Justice! LOL!!!! People are awake now.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

I hate to break it to you, but I'm not a member of law enforcement...

Am glad you got a chuckle, though... :P

skinny 3 years, 1 month ago

Here come those black helicopters AGAIN!

smitty has no clue about Law Enforcement and what officers are taught and trained to do!

If there were to be a review board it’s make up would have to include people from the KBI, FBI, Sheriff‘s Office or someone with a law degree or it would not work.

skinny 3 years, 1 month ago

smitty, that’d be like having a citizens review board for a doctor. That’s not how it works. To be a doctor you have to go to school for ten years. You cannot have over sight on someone doing a surgery which you as a citizen have no knowledge of! The same thing for law Enforcement personnel.

A perfect example is your ranting and raving for the last ten years reference the Greg Sever (? Spelling) shooting. You had no idea how the Officers were trained to deal with a situation like that. But you did criticize those two Officers for their actions. When in fact they did what they were trained to do when somebody comes at them with a knife.

See recent shooting of subject with knife in Topeka by TPD

http://cjonline.com/news/2011-10-06/police-shoot-kill-man-knife

Just sayin!

LadyJ 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh come on UNIKU, a citizen review board might be a good idea, some of our citizens need to be reviewed. After reviewing smitty, could they please review the crazy lady across the street from me before she burns down the whole neighborhood?

puddleglum 3 years, 1 month ago

y'all should just let the police do whatever they want, and leave them alone. I trust 'em. At home in Berlin back in '37 things were just great until people started complaining. next thing you know, we had to toss a few troublemakers into 'correction camps'. for their own good. of course.

Jim Phillips 3 years, 1 month ago

So, how about we do this. For those of you who work in businesses that provide services to customers, let's open up your personnel files and see what kind of disciplinary actions that have been taken against you. Since your customers pay for the services, they pay your salary. We customers are entitled to know what proceedures you violated.

Jim Phillips 3 years, 1 month ago

"Guardian, your attitudes are what needs to be corrected."

SO, you're ok with double standards?

bearded_gnome 3 years, 1 month ago

and now we have the Occuhippies doing the thing with videoing officers and their badges and names, posting them on the web and calling for them to be harrassed.
... nice.

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

Okay, I have a question for the brain trust that seems to think citizen oversight is a great idea for police officers.

Well, actually, a couple of them.

What organization would the officer appeal the decision to if there is ONLY a citizen review board, or would whatever judgment, and companion punishment, the be all and end all of the process?

If I am not mistaken, wouldn't that kind of a policy compromise the officer's constitutional rights?

What about due process and the right to a speedy trial? Facing one's accuser?

Armored_One 3 years, 1 month ago

I haven't heard anything from anyone as to what recourses the officers should be allowed in the advent that they wish to dispute the findings of a civilian review board. ALL I am reading is we need this and that is the be all and end all of everything.

You are like little kids, wanting pie all the freaking time, but you give no thought to the problems that can come from getting what you want all the time.

What is to prevent a person like Smitty from being part of that 'judicial', and I use the term facetiously, process. Even the densest of readers on this forum realize that smitty has a personal grudge against the Lawrence Police Department. Larry, while not as vehement, has also been quite vocal about how this oversight needs to occur, but when pressed, neither give anything beyond "I want it so that should be enough".

I shouldn't have to Google this. You have put so much thought into this that I would certainly hope that you had considered the option of appealing the decisions of the board. Who do YOU think should have that oversight? I don't care what some other fool in some other town thinks of the process as it concerns THAT town. That town isn't Lawrence.

Personally, I think the board should consist of 5 members. Chief of police, mayor of Lawrence, 2 citizens chosen at random, just like jury duty, and a member of the city prosecutors office.

In the advent that a decision is challenged, utilize the KU legal department. How much more impartial can you get than an organization that has NO ties to the city or the police department, since KU has it own police force and answers to the state, not the city?

That secondary review board could consist of a law professor and 4 graduate students, just so that they have a reasonable amount of working knowledge of how the legal system works, since this is supposed to be a judicial process.

As to how that secondary committee would be compensated for their time would be left to the college to decide, but if it was done much the same method as the legal aid works, it would be able to offer students credit for the work. That way, nothing is gained from either police officers or the city, thus negating the chance of politics becoming involved.

See, when you present an idea, stomping your foot and throwing a temper tantrum doesn't get you anything but mocked. I offered up not only a method of the primary committee being formed and who, in theory, should sit on it, but the secondary as well.

All you have said is you want the board.

I want world peace, politicians that don't lie and snow that doesn't fall on sidewalks or streets. We don't always get what we want.

Oh, and one last thing. The duration of any civilian sitting on the review board should be limited to 6 months, with a compensation similiar to jury duty.

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