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Opinion

Opinion

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

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

The unsigned staff editorial suggests that "sound oversight by the City Manager and City Commissioners" is needed. Well, that being the case, then one has to only consider what Commissioner Dever recently referred to as the city promoting itself as not being unfriendly to business, blah and blah. The only way for the oversight and changing the perception of the way Lawrence does business is to : Change the way business is conducted.

Thank You,

OEW

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LJ Whirled 2 years, 1 month ago

Bribery is a felony, and a breach of the most basic duty of an officer. Failure to prosecute confirms that there are two classes of people --- those who are above the law, and the rest of us. Police officers and sports boosters are still apparently among the former.

DA -- prosecute these crimes. Chief -- you are still sweeping under that rug. Shame on you.

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observant 2 years, 1 month ago

We couldn't survive a single day without a smitty conspiracy rant. What would we do for laughter and on-going jokes. meaning smitty.

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goodcountrypeople 2 years, 1 month 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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jafs 2 years, 1 month 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.

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Armored_One 2 years, 1 month 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.

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grammaddy 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 1 month 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?

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 1 month ago

It's the Government. What do you expect?

(btw, the government are people too)

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

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.”

Which reads....the city will not press for our DA to file charges....that necessary personnel actions as defined by a chief who started his employment with the KOPD at the time of the cover in the Sevier LPD shooting. ....during the time that an LPD Capt's testimony was refused as valid(perjury?) in his daughter's drug case....is quoted in an interview while leading the drug task force that some crimes get rewarded for co-operation.

It sure hasn't taken long to prove LPD needed an outside chief in lieu of the internal BAU that Amyx fought for.

Just for giggles, take a look at this past weeks stories that hint around the long standing problems in the LPD that Khatib is fixing..then go back to Olin's retirement coverage and read how great Olin was per those same people ..like Corliss......

There are links in the archives that have the same shame on you LPD but it wasn't that bad anon editorial in the Sevier killing almost twenty one years ago and Lawrence is still victim that same LPD criminal mentality (police culture) today.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

This is a copy of a motion that the Neighbors filed during the process of the federal proceedings long prior to any trial. There should be no surprises for anyone mentioned in this motion....the Neighbors have been open about every step they intend to take.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/9643796/FOR...

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF KANSAS(Kansas City Docket)Guy Neighbors and Carrie NeighborsPlaintiff(s)

V.US Assistant Attorney Marietta Parker US Assistant Attorney Terra Morehead Lawrence Kansas Police Officer Jay Bialek Lawrence Kansas Polic e Officer Micky Rantz Lawrence Kansas Police Chief Ronald Olin Postal Inspector David E. Nitz Internal Revenue Service Agent Robert Jackson Kansas University Detective Michael Riner Kansas City FBI Special Agent Walter Bob Robert (Shaefer) Schaefer Lawrence Police Officer Sean Brown City of Lawrence Kansas Lawrence Kansas Police officer Tarik Khatib Lawrence Kansas Police officer Lance Flachsbarth Defendants)


....YH owners Guy and Carrie Neighbors......... have argued the government’s witnesses were not credible and accused prosecutors and police of corruption.

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Eride 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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bigpimpin 2 years, 1 month ago

Total bullshyte. Payola alive and well in the Lawrence Pig Department

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hujiko 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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