The state agency that licenses law enforcement officers is investigating whether to take disciplinary action against two former Lawrence police officers involved in a ticket-fixing scandal.
Earlier this year, the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, or KSCPOST, received “notice of termination” forms from the Lawrence Police Department for former Sgts. Mike Monroe and Matt Sarna.
Such forms, required when an officer in the state leaves a department, prompted the commission to investigate the cases. The investigation could lead to license revocation, barring Monroe and Sarna from working in Kansas law enforcement.
The KSCPOST termination forms, obtained through a Journal-World open records request, state that Monroe was “terminated” on March 22, while Sarna left the department on Feb. 24 after an “involuntary negotiated resignation,” which means the officer “was offered the opportunity to resign to avoid potential disciplinary or adverse employment of legal action.”
The city refused to identify the two officers in the speeding ticket-fixing case, but District Attorney Charles Branson said in March that he reviewed court cases that Sarna and Monroe had been involved in after the city provided him their names in connection with the city’s personnel investigation.
Branson said prosecutors reviewed the FBI and department’s internal affairs report, which revealed that the KU tickets were provided to the officers and that the same officers fixed certain traffic tickets. But he said the timing and circumstances of the receipt of the athletic tickets could not be directly linked to specific requests for fixing traffic tickets, so his office elected not to file criminal charges of bribery or other offenses against Sarna or Monroe.
Monroe declined comment about the KSCPOST investigation but confirmed he was still going through the city’s grievance procedure related to his firing.
Gary Steed, KSCPOST director, said his agency was still in the “information gathering” phase of investigating both Monroe and Sarna. The termination forms do not go into further detail about Monroe or Sarna’s case.
Steed said his agency contacts the reporting police department for further information needed during its investigation.
The investigation can take several months, but if disciplinary action is taken, that information will be posted on the commission’s website, Steed said.
However, any actions taken by KSCPOST do not affect an officer’s retirement benefits through the Kansas Police and Fire Retirement System, commonly referred to as KP&F;, said Kristen Basso, KP&F; spokeswoman. Officers can opt for early disbursement at age 50, Basso said. Specific information for an officer’s individual retirement account from KP&F; is not an open record, Basso said.
Cases on the rise
A review of posted cases shows disciplinary actions against officers in the state have risen in recent years. Between 2004 and 2008, KSCPOST issued a yearly average of five disciplinary actions. But since 2009, KSCPOST has taken at least a dozen actions per year, including 21 in 2011.
Under Kansas law, police licenses are revoked if an officer is convicted of felony or a misdemeanor conviction of domestic battery. Licenses can also be revoked for “moral character” violations, as well as for violations of police officer training standards.
Three Lawrence police officers have had their licenses revoked since 1998: Robert Sayler, who was convicted of wire fraud; Richard Jump, who was convicted of rape in Douglas County in 1999; and James W. Miller, convicted of battery in 1998.