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Archive for Friday, February 17, 2012

Suspended police officers’ names not released

Officials say identities will be given to ‘appropriate parties’

February 17, 2012

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One day after Lawrence city officials confirmed that two police officers were suspended related to an investigation into the dismissal of traffic tickets in exchange for Kansas University basketball tickets, the city’s attorney said it would notify appropriate parties in the judicial system about the identity of the individuals involved.

“The city complies with its obligation to report information to the parties that are entitled to the information,” city attorney Toni Wheeler said Friday. “The public should have confidence in our compliance with those obligations.”

City officials have not publicly released the names of the two officers or whether they are suspended with or without pay, saying it is a personnel matter. The officers were suspended following an investigation by the FBI in which no criminal charges were filed, but Police Chief Tarik Khatib said there was an internal investigation because it appeared the city’s gratuity policy had been violated.

City Manager David Corliss said the person whose speeding tickets were fixed is serving time in federal prison related to a broader KU ticket scandal from 2005 to 2010 after four Kansas Athletics Inc. employees and one department consultant pleaded guilty in the $2 million cash-for-tickets scam.

A Lawrence defense attorney said Friday that he was advising his clients not to enter a plea in pending cases in which a Lawrence police officer is a witness until the officers are identified.

“The fact that these officers engaged in dishonest conduct should be disclosed to the court because the court ultimately will have to determine the amount of credibility given to these officers’ testimony,” defense attorney Branden Bell said. “And the fact that these officers abandoned their duty to the public for their own personal gain is something that the court should be made aware of.”

Bell said he has sent a letter to Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson arguing that the officers’ identities should be disclosed. Bell said he planned to send the same letter to Jerry Little, the supervising prosecutor in Lawrence Municipal Court. Otherwise he planned to file court motions in his pending cases making a similar argument.

“The state has to turn over evidence of dishonesty of its witnesses to a defendant,” Bell said.

Branson, whose office prosecutes all felony cases in the city, said Friday that Bell’s request was premature. Branson said the police department would provide formal notification about the recent investigation to his office.

“I expect that to be coming soon,” Branson said. “At that time we will go through our process of trying to identify what, if any, cases those officers were on and determine what notification needs to take place.”

He said generally if officers are no longer employed with the department because of some type of investigation into their conduct, they become unavailable as a witness. Then prosecutors must examine all cases filed and likely dismiss ones in which the officer’s testimony would be most crucial.

Also, prosecutors would be required to notify the defense about issues with an officer if they proceed with a case.

“We have an ongoing obligation to turn over anything that would be exculpatory in any case,” Branson said.

Mary Kreiner Ramirez, a Washburn University law professor, said typically when police officers testify in a case, jurors tend to give them a lot of credibility because of their position.

“But if you found out that they were willing to not pursue their crime-fighting responsibility for the benefit of tickets, which is essentially accepting bribes, then that might change your opinion of the person and go to the weight of what they’re saying,” said Ramirez, a former federal prosecutor.

Wheeler said prosecutors have a duty under U.S. Supreme Court precedent to disclose to defendants certain evidence, including any potential impeachment evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses. She said the police department would provide prosecutors with the names of any officers who might fall under that “at the appropriate time, in the appropriate manner.”

“The city complies with and will continue to abide by all state and federal discovery and disclosure requirements,” she said.

While acknowledging the fixed speeding tickets Thursday, city officials did leave several questions unanswered. Both Khatib and Corliss confirmed “several” members of the department were involved in the dismissal of the tickets, although they contended one individual orchestrated the matter. They did not provide details about the number of traffic tickets dismissed and said they were uncertain how long the ticket-fixing activity occurred other than over a number of years.

Khatib, who was promoted to police chief in February 2011, received an anonymous letter in May 2011 about the allegations, and Corliss later referred the matter to federal authorities for an investigation. Corliss also did not provide the name of the now imprisoned individual who provided the tickets in exchanged for the dismissed speeding tickets.

Mayor Aron Cromwell said one of the suspended officers orchestrated the dismissal of the tickets, while the other had knowledge of the activity and did not step forward. Cromwell said while it was Khatib’s decision, it was likely the officer leading the activity will be removed from the department.

City Hall reporter Chad Lawhorn contributed to this story.

Comments

Oldsoul 2 years, 6 months ago

I hope Charles Branson's office remembers its duty to turn over evidence that impeaches witnesses the next time those rats over in KU's crooked HR office try to frame a worker or student. Haha, this article sounds full of a bunch of butt-covering rhetoric. Law enforcement in Douglas County is full of criminals who frame and smear anybody with decent ethics who tries to expose them for the liars and scoundrels they are.

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 6 months ago

I understand the DA wanting the names. If they put a cop on the stand for say a drug case, and he happened to one of the officers who accepted a bribe, the defense lawyer will have a field day.

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Lana Christie-Hayes 2 years, 6 months ago

+1... but they still should release them!

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crimsonwithblue22 2 years, 6 months ago

“But if you found out that they were willing to not pursue their crime-fighting responsibility for the benefit of tickets, which is essentially accepting bribes, then that might change your opinion of the person and go to the weight of what they’re saying,” said Ramirez, a former federal prosecutor.

"......Police Chief Tarik Khatib said there was an internal investigation because it appeared the city’s gratuity policy had been violated."

Thank you for helping me change my flat tire, please accept this $5 gift card to Starbucks = breaking the city's gratuity policy

Thanks for not issuing me a ticket (or more?) for my breaking of the law, please accept these basketball tickets valued at more than $150. = acceptance of a bribe

Black meet white, there is no gray area

It's reassuring to know that because of this possible "indiscretion"/breaking of the city's gratuity policy/taking of bribes, we might be throwing out cases that involve more serious or even violent crimes. This is EXACTLY the reason the taking of bribes by police officers IS a crime and IS a serious issue. I cannot believe our city manager and our new police chief are publicly so nonchalant and unforthcoming about the entire matter.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 6 months ago

Cognitive dissonance maybe. If the city manager and police chief do not recognize it for what it is, then maybe they're corrupt as well. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Transparency is needed.

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Hong_Kong_Phooey 2 years, 6 months ago

Is it the value ($$) of the item exchanged that bothers you or the context in which it occurs? I'm a little confused as to your position.

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Mike Edson 2 years, 6 months ago

Cops and robbers are cut from the same cloth, only separated by a thread. The Lawrence Police Department is on the take. It is what it is.

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Phil Minkin 2 years, 6 months ago

In Lawrence it seems to be cops and/or robbers

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cowboy 2 years, 6 months ago

LPD has one chance to be transparent. There is no legitimate reason not to have full disclosure on the following:

Officers involved Offense detail Shine daylight on the "void" /" professional courtesy" process , who gets it and how often is this occurring Cease the process immediately

Khatib has one chance to be on the right side of this issue , if you continue to hold back information you are a part of the problem. Your dept is not entitled to secrecy as you are our servants. Remember that very important point !

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Patricia Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

I was so unimpressed with our police chief affirming the "discretion" police officer have for not giving tickets to coworkers, family and friends. This is wrong and needs to addressed for the crimes that they are.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 6 months ago

You're just mad. You could buy a political office, play sports for K.U., or become a police officer and join the "just us" club too, ya know. Don't hate, appreciate! These people are heroes. http://www.youtube.com/user/tenebroust

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wprop 2 years, 6 months ago

STUDENT athletes given breaks on felony charges...police investigate athletic director find no problem with bribery...receives $100,000,00 job.....nothing to see here move along

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skinny 2 years, 6 months ago

You guys need to give it a break. The FBI sent the incident back to the City as there were no violation of any LAW!! The only thing the Officer(s) have done is violate a departmental policy! Now I agree it was a serious departmental policy violation and I believe the Officer(s) should be punished, but no crime has been committed!

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 6 months ago

But every single time those two officers are on the stand for any case this will come up, and it's not fair for the DA to deal with it.

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ghostofrealityspeaks 2 years, 6 months ago

Skinny, get a freakin clue! The "only thing" they did over several years were to go to those officers that they supervise and tell/ask them to dismiss citations and reward them or themselves with a benefit that had cash value. the only difference that makes this a tad bid less severe is there was no money exchanged for the dismissal of the citations as far as we know. I'm sure most of the time these officers used these tickets for their own use but i would think there were instances when they sold the tickets for their financial gain. Furthermore, i would think that the several officers involved comment involves many officers below these two supervisors. Look at the comments by the law professor, its a bribe not matter how you look at it. The U.S. Attorney's office most likley decided to let the PD take appropriate action. The core issue which was brought up in the paper today is the credibility of these offficers is forever tarnished. Once they are identified it basically makes them unable to supervise, testify and be a credible witness in a court of law. These actions are gregarious in nature and all involved need to be identified.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 6 months ago

I bet they meant to type "egregious in nature".

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ghostofrealityspeaks 2 years, 6 months ago

Skinny, get a freakin clue! The "only thing" they did over several years were to go to those officers that they supervise and tell/ask them to dismiss citations and reward them or themselves with a benefit that had cash value. the only difference that makes this a tad bid less severe is there was no money exchanged for the dismissal of the citations as far as we know. I'm sure most of the time these officers used these tickets for their own use but i would think there were instances when they sold the tickets for their financial gain. Furthermore, i would think that the several officers involved comment involves many officers below these two supervisors. Look at the comments by the law professor, its a bribe not matter how you look at it. The U.S. Attorney's office most likley decided to let the PD take appropriate action. The core issue which was brought up in the paper today is the credibility of these offficers is forever tarnished. Once they are identified it basically makes them unable to supervise, testify and be a credible witness in a court of law. These actions are gregarious in nature and all involved need to be identified.

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KEITHMILES05 2 years, 6 months ago

Bottom line is any defense lawyer will have a field day with said officers as the lawyers only job is to create "reasonable doubt" and this most certainly will be the end result.

Also, this is a nightmare of a problem for the LPD as far as the public is concerned. Every officer will be looked upon as dirty. The chief and city better deal with this harshly and quickly.

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Mike Edson 2 years, 6 months ago

Did anyone else notice that there seemed to be a saturation of police patrolling the streets yesterday pulling over traffic violators? I saw more police officers working the streets during my morning commute to work than I normally see in an entire week. They must be doing some PR damage control.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 6 months ago

No damage control, it's a fund raising event for the city. How can a municipal judge be impartial when they're paid by the prosecuting entity. FYI: reasonable doubt is not in a municipal judge's vocabulary when presiding over a traffic infraction case. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vB6sRQ...

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 6 months ago

They pretend they're impartial! I get it now, thanks.

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Missingit 2 years, 6 months ago

I thought innocent until proven guilty was still the law of the land. If you want the officers names it should be released upon a conviction of a crime! Releasing the names now before a conviction sullies the whole legal process. The officers are currently on leave, I am guessing unpaid, their families are suffering already from poor decisions made. But before you all clamor for transparency aren't these officers entitled to the same rights as you. If they are convicted of a crime or are found guilty of violating a city/department policy then everyone here can throw stones. I believe we are all allowed to our day in court. I have a fried who got a DUI in 2008 and he goes to court in April 2012. Let the process work!

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Missingit 2 years, 6 months ago

I did not make the legal system. If you did perhaps you can fast track a process. Everyone wants names now. Let a decision be made and give people a chance to have their say before people make decisions. Everyone here seems rushing to judge. I was saying let the investigation end and let the DA see if charges should be filed before we all convict these officers. Then if an when they are found guilty people can condemn them.

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Hong_Kong_Phooey 2 years, 6 months ago

It would seem that Lawrencians only believe in "innocent until proven guilty" when the crime - which the FBI said there wasn't one committed; at least, not enough to prosecute - is allegedly committed by a non-law enforcement official. Otherwise, it's a race to see who can find the rope...

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Bursting 2 years, 6 months ago

Yet another example of our gov't and Law Enforcement being "above" civilians. In what world other than Law Enforcement would these men have not been FIRED ON THE SPOT.

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

please remember we have a lot of good police officers who are doing a thankless job, wave to a cop today, they will probably wave back and maybe it will brighten everybodys day

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TravisParker 2 years, 6 months ago

Law enforcement officers are (and absolutely should be) held to a higher standard than other citizens. The Department has already established guilt and, from an ethical standpoint, the citizenry as a whole should be made aware of the fact that these two men can not and should be trusted with the extreme responsibilities of their office. If the proper legal channels have determined that there was no 'crime' committed, then so be it. But the public trust in these men and their office has been violated and we deserve to be informed of the extent of that violation for reasons that both the defense attorney and the law professor in the article has already clearly outlined.

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Missingit 2 years, 6 months ago

I believe held to a higher standard is absolutely correct! But why, assuming these officers were fired for no crime being committed but merely a breach of policy, should their names be released. Do other businesses do that. Maybe the ljworld shoul have a section where people were accused of committing a crime, not convicted or charged by the courts, then we can see what your neighbor was accused of or your friend or family. If they are fired and no longer with the department then their names are no longer a concern to the general public just the people who they have court cases with

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TravisParker 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't disagree. If (contrary to my own understanding of what constitutes bribery of a public official) there was no 'crime' committed here, but the officers are fired or choose to resign, then let them keep their dirty little secrets. I couldn't care less in that instance.

But if either of them are ever going to be wearing a badge again, then everyone should know who they are.

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doc1 2 years, 6 months ago

I know who they are but I'm sure LJWorld would promptly delete my post if it was thrown out there.

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hbjayhawk 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm glad LPD actually did something about this. Lew Perkins didnt control the LPD.

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Patricia Davis 2 years, 6 months ago

No, he simply controlled Ron Olin.

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kernal 2 years, 6 months ago

"...if either of them are ever going to be wearing a badge again, then everyone should know who they are." If they plan on wearing a badge again, whoever hires them will do a background check. The world does not need to know unless the state determines this was not just an infraction of policy, but a crime. Focus on fixing something that really matters.

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TravisParker 2 years, 6 months ago

"Focus on fixing something that really matters."

Cops on the take matter to me. They matter a lot.

If you think law enforcement officials trading legal favors for entertainment isn't an issue of public concern, then one would wonder what exactly you ARE concerned about. Whether some technicality in the process allows them to escape the fact that this is, from all outward perception, nothing more than a bribe, their actions were still a gross violation of the public trust.

And the public, as a body, deserves to know the names of its servants and employees who not only breach its policies, but also make a mockery of the trust and authority that the public maintains and allows its law enforcement personnel to have.

And for all of you who keep claiming that there shouldn't be a release of information because "there isn't one for policy infractions in any other job", please realize that this isn't ANY OTHER JOB. They aren't jockeying a register at Kwik Shop or flipping burgers at McDonalds or stocking shelves at Best Buy. They are sworn to uphold the law in a near-sacred bond of trust between them and the general public. We trust them to keep us safe and, above all, to be honest and forthright in their dealings with the public so we always know that justice is maintained.

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Munsoned 2 years, 6 months ago

Exactly. And if the PD cannot stand the breath of the city and it's citizens (albeit smelly) down the backs of their necks, then those who are uncomfortable should find other employment. They each signed up for this job. They know exactly what is expected of them.

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Kyle Chandler 2 years, 6 months ago

They deserve everything that normal, everyday people have to endure, release their names, throw the book at them. Make it as public as it can be.

Anything else just sends the wrong message down the ranks. Especially when civilians that worked for KU and were also otherwise 'good citizens' are doing jail time and/or serious probation for similar offenses. What makes them different? NOTHING, THEY ARE SERVANTS! They should of thought about the 'suffering of their families' before they became corrupt, system mangling individuals. If they want all that responsibility of authority there should be a similar sized hammer drop when they abuse that authority.

And before some imbecile like doc1 tries to bring me into his alternate 'reality' let me say, i know there are good, NO, ACTUALLY GREAT, police officers in the LPD/DCS ranks...i dealt with them several times as a bar manager downtown. But i also have had the displeasure of dealing with a few that were BAD EGGS in every way. Trust me, if i knew their names....id tell everyone to watch out for those guys.

Accountability and Transparency, if we had more, maybe Kansas or the US as a whole wouldnt be in such a pi$$ poor state.

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brewmaster 2 years, 6 months ago

As a citizen advocate of the LPD this "new discovery" of questionable conduct by LPD is disappointing. Unfortunately, if Lawrence police officers were (even remotely) involved with the KU ticket scandal then it undermines all aspects of public trust in the LPD. Now we - the public - will question the integrity and legitimacy of every action of the entire LPD. Also, wether its valid or not it raises suspicion about the timing of the former chief's retirement and subsequent placement at KU.

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Munsoned 2 years, 6 months ago

....Subsequent new job at KU and subsequent exit from said job.... hard to consider at this point the possibility of coincidence....

The disgusting thing here, for me, is that these decisions were premeditated. There was probably no forethought into how this could devastate so many people. It was not some split-second decision that they had to make as police officers-- it was deliberate, intentional, and driven by greed.

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Slowponder 2 years, 6 months ago

The Chief has made the decision not to release the names based on the reasonable ground that it was a personnel issue. The City Attorney's espousal of limited release is short-sighted. This is going to create collateral attacks on convictions involvin any testifying LPD officer. Anyone so convicted will file a habeas petition claiming under the Brady-Agurs-Bagley-Whitely standard of disclosure of exculpatory/impeaching evidence that the State or City withholding evidence was material. It won't matter whether the testifying officer is as pure as the driven snow or was the ticket-fixer or the officer that stood by knowing of the fixes and said nothing. The mere claim will be enough to the initiate a habeas petition. The State or City cannot claim harmless error under Brecht, because credibility of a witness is always material. Materiality under Bagley is not that failure to disclose would produce a different verdict, but the failure to disclose undermines confidence in the verdict.

The Chief's decision not to disclose is reasonable. But its impact will result in it being called the "Lawrence Full Employment of Lawyers Act of 2012.". Disclosure would limit the habeas petitions to cases involving the ticket fixer testifying or the silent stand-by observer and not involve every case at which an LPD officer testified. By failing to disclose, each conviction is going to have to be tested.

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mlk733 2 years, 6 months ago

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

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Alceste 2 years, 6 months ago

Alceste supports the NON release of names in a matter like this matter. It's a personnel issue and nobody has a right to diddly boo.

Should it become a criminal matter (which Alcsete trusts it shall) than names are public.

To even consider that "....only two officers...." knew about this situation and that other officers, at the bare minimum, knew nothing is absurd. Thin Blue Line.

Were Alcest a betting fellow, he put $10k down that MANY others AT LEAST knew this manner of jive was going on. So what? Big deal. shrug

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Sigmund 2 years, 6 months ago

Typically traffic infractions like speeding are not crimes. However, offering or receiving a bribe is a felony. Seems like both parties need to be named and prosecuted. http://kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/statute/021_000_0000_chapter/021_060_0000_article/021_060_0001_section/021_060_0001_k/

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