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Archive for Sunday, February 19, 2012

Police case

Two cases involving local police officers have placed the Lawrence Police Department in an unflattering light.

February 19, 2012

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A couple of news stories that broke last week have drawn some unflattering attention to the Lawrence Police Department, and the way these incidents are handled will be critical to maintaining the community’s confidence in local law enforcement.

City leaders confirmed Thursday that two Lawrence police officers had been suspended following an FBI investigation into reports that local officers had fixed traffic tickets in exchange for being given tickets to Kansas University athletic events. The other incident that came to light Thursday involved a Lawrence police officer who was arrested Jan. 5 by a Kansas Highway Patrol trooper on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Although it seems the district attorney’s office is taking a long time to decide whether to prosecute the DUI case, officials say it’s not uncommon to wait for additional test results before making such a decision. Police Chief Tarik Khatib wouldn’t comment on the case, saying that whether the officer had been suspended was a personnel matter. Nonetheless, the officer’s name is on the record, and local residents will be watching to see how the case is resolved.

Driving under the influence is a serious charge, but the individual officer’s case isn’t as significant to the overall reputation of the police department as the ticket-fixing case. City Manager David Corliss said he didn’t expect criminal charges to be filed in the case, but he assured the public that Khatib was taking “the necessary personnel actions, which are serious.”

They should be.

The KU ticket fiasco is the scandal that just won’t go away. Corliss confirmed that the person whose traffic tickets were fixed now is serving time in federal prison for his or her involvement in the ticket scam. Khatib reportedly received an anonymous tip concerning the tickets in May 2011, and the case was turned over to federal officials for investigation. That was the correct action. Unfortunately, it appears that similar reports concerning police officers had come to light before May 2011 — and before Khatib was chief — and were dismissed after an internal investigation failed to find enough evidence to pursue the cases.

City officials also acknowledge that more than two officers probably were involved in ticket-fixing over a period of several years. That’s disappointing and suggests that the case should have been turned over to federal investigators much sooner.

In recent years, some local residents have called for the creation of a citizens review board to oversee police operations. Over the years, Lawrence has enjoyed an excellent police department free of political influence or outside pressure. The best way to ensure this type of operation is through excellent leadership in the police department and sound oversight by the city manager and city commissioners.

Corliss and Khatib deserve credit for pursuing a case that apparently had been swept under the rug before. Nonetheless, Corliss is correct in saying the police department now has some work to do in rebuilding its reputation in the community.

Comments

hujiko 2 years, 10 months ago

Give us names, it's only reasonable since taxpayers pay their salaries.

Eride 2 years, 10 months ago

Can we call it what it is? Bribery. The officers should be publicly identified and fired if determined to have actually accepted bribes.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 10 months ago

Are you sure that he/she/they/it live(s) in Lawrence?

doc1 2 years, 10 months ago

I know where she lives and It's not in Lawrence. Smitty give up on the Yellow House stuff. We are sick of hearing about it from you.

Nikki May 2 years, 10 months ago

Kopd? Probably typo. But an internal BAU? Behavior analysis unit? What would that do? Why would you need to analyze their behavior if you already know what's wrong and who is doing it? IAB would probably be the acronym you are looking for. Internal Affairs Bureau. They would be the ones to police the police. But with the size of our force, it wouldn't work properly. Lawrence is small town.

The other stuff, I'm ignoring. Gets old.

Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 10 months ago

I think the City Commissioners should pass a law that no house in Lawrence can be painted yellow, and that all houses that are now painted yellow must be repainted with another color with some taxpayer assistance.

I am sick and tired of hearing about Yellow House. There have been quite a few other crimes committed in this city. Why is there such a fascination with the Yellow House crimes?

Bassetlover 2 years, 10 months ago

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grammaddy 2 years, 10 months ago

I see Smitty finally showed up. What took you so long?

Armored_One 2 years, 10 months ago

Anyone else get the impression, vaguely, that smitty is actually Carrie, or someone else involved in the "case"? Persecution complex must be a burden. I mean to have ALL those people, some of whom don't even live in this state, out to get you, it must be horrifying.

Really, what does a postal inspector or an agent from the IRS have to gain, one way or the other, from giving the Yellow House criminals the shaft?

Ah well. At least smitty is predictable. Anything ever mentioned about a Lawrence officer, good, bad, or indifferent, will draw that thing out to rant, rave and entertain the rest of us. At least I am entertained. A mouse frothing at mouth is still kind of cute.

doc1 2 years, 10 months ago

She's not Carrie and she's not involved in the case. She just likes to be there watching over the Police Department and complaining about anything she can.

jafs 2 years, 10 months ago

I wonder why this editorial thinks that bribery/ticket nonsense is worse than DUI.

DUI is an offense that endangers other people lives and safety - ticket stuff is just about money.

goodcountrypeople 2 years, 10 months ago

I have hardly found the cops in the lower Midwest to be very honorable--quite the opposite. If the police can be said to understand the criminal mind it is often because they themselves share the same sordid characteristics. The only difference is the police use dishonesty in the service of the state.

The cop story from last week's This American Life illustrates the dirty tactics the police often use to set people up for arrest. The cop who did this seems way more guilty than the poor guy who fell for the ploy. It's hard to get back on your feet after being screwed over like this obviously. Imagine: this is supposed to be a valentine story ( second one in): http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/457/what-i-did-for-love

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