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Archive for Monday, May 21, 2012

Police complaint case summaries provide scant detail

May 21, 2012

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Tarik Khatib talks about his role as police chief and how he communicates with the public using advice from fellow officers and public officials Friday, March 25, 2011.

Tarik Khatib talks about his role as police chief and how he communicates with the public using advice from fellow officers and public officials Friday, March 25, 2011.

2012 complaints

• An officer was arrested by another agency for a driving offense. The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen reported that an officer failed to take a report of a crime. The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen reported that an officer was unprofessional and did not properly enforce a court order. The complaint was not sustained.

• A citizen reported being arrested without cause and that the person’s children were unjustly taken into protective custody. The officers were exonerated.

• A citizen reported that an officer permitted a roommate to return to a residence after the roommate was released from jail for an incident that had occurred at the home. The officer was exonerated.

• A citizen reported being wrongfully arrested for trespassing. The officer was exonerated.

• An officer failed to properly document the facts of a case in a police report. The complaint was sustained.

• A citizen reported that his or her child was taken into protective custody by an officer without justification. The officer was exonerated.

• An employee failed to report damage to a work vehicle. The complaint was sustained.

• Four cases are still open.

Click here for a full list of the 2011 complaints.

Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said the recent FBI investigation into a traffic ticket-fixing scheme and the removal of two high-ranking Lawrence police officers does not necessitate more transparency in police misconduct cases.

“We act appropriately and hold people accountable,” Khatib said.

For the past two years, the Lawrence Journal-World has requested the full reports for misconduct complaints against members of the Lawrence Police Department. The department has denied those requests, citing a personnel exemption in the Kansas open records law. However, police have furnished brief case summaries indicating which complaints were sustained.

Here’s a breakdown of cases since 2010:

• 2010: 10 complaints, seven sustained.

• 2011: 24 complaints, 11 sustained.

• 2012 (through May 1): 13 complaints, five sustained. Four remain open.

The case summaries that police provided consisted of one or two sentences, and they did not include what disciplinary action was taken against officers. For example, the summary for the ticket-fixing incident that the FBI investigated — in which no criminal charges were filed — said simply:

“An anonymous complaint led to the investigation of officers for violation of the department’s gratuity and solicitation policy. The complaint was sustained.”

Those allegations involved the dismissal of a Kansas University athletic department official’s speeding tickets in exchange for KU basketball tickets. The city has not identified the two officers, but city officials have confirmed that Matt Sarna and Michael Monroe, both sergeants and longtime officers, no longer are employed with the department.

Khatib said his office would have proactively provided the public with information in the ticket-fixing case once the investigation was complete. However, information obtained by media outlets led the department to provide information sooner, he said.

Khatib did say there could be cases in which an officer was terminated for misconduct but which wouldn’t necessitate public notification.

The chief said he believes the current system is an effective way to inform the public about possible wrongdoing within the department, while not sacrificing the officers’ privacy.

The current process “strikes a good balance,” Khatib said.

Charles Davis, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri and author of two books on open records, disagrees.

“We have to take their word for it,” Davis said about a lack of details in such cases. “How does the public have any idea it wasn’t an entire whitewash?”

Davis also questions the use of the personnel exemption as a rationale for limiting information. In several states, media outlets have battled police agencies about similar exemptions, and courts have generally ruled on the side of transparency, Davis said.

Letting the public in on cases of police misconduct is “just part and parcel to be accountable to the public,” Davis said.

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Complaints against Lawrence Police

This graph shows the the disposition of complaints made against the Lawrence Police Department.

Comments

Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 4 months ago

Perhaps the time is near for a Citizens' Review Board. It is understandable that the LPD would be reluctant to have such a Board - especially as it relates to confidentiality. However, a CRB could be formed in such a way as to allow access to records yet require full confidential handling of all matters brought before it.

An unbiased, limited-term Board could go a long way toward building stronger confidence in the administrative side of an outstanding police force.

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grammaddy 2 years, 4 months ago

Isn't this what Smitty has been saying all along? Geez I hope I don't wake him up.

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repete66211 2 years, 4 months ago

And who would be on that board? The spots would be appointed by big wigs to be occupied by big wigs who would then trade their influence for special treatment by law enforcement.

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

The community has the right to request the City Commission to form a citizens review board. The police and the community must work together. It is dismissive of the police to just tell the community, a review board is not needed. An unbiased board means not biased toward the police but also not biased against the police. It is the nature of a culture to white wash or fight for control. The police actually would have more power if they joined the community in creating what we all want, good policing, community trust. I thank the officers for their duty and I know it is not an easy job, it is dangerous. The police refusing to consider a citizens review board is telling the community they are not part of the solution. It should not be the police against everyone else in deciding community need of fair and open enforcement. The commission should put in on the agenda. We are getting a new chief, it is a good time for real discussion, not just an announcement that the police don't want to work with the community.

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texasjustice 2 years, 4 months ago

to not have a crb is having the fox watching the chicken coop.if we had a crb then you would justify {citizens on patrol } or cop as a justified tittle.Oh by the way i still have not got any info from them on the 2 landscape trailers and tiller that was stolen from me,but i did see 2 police cars and officers pulled over to watch a young women change her tire.i do listen to a scanner and there is alot of double dispatches on simple calls.they need gps on their cars to stop this kind of bunching up on calls and this will free up people to find thieves and stolen property

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commonsenselawrence 2 years, 4 months ago

It would appear to me that the police department is doing exactly what we expect it to do...police its own. Just because we don't get the "dirty laundry" on every complaint, it does not mean the Chief is not investigating all of the complaints to the fullest extent and disciplining those officers who have committed a violation.

I have not read one, not one, case where the department has acted inappropriately during an Internal Affairs investigation. If there is one (one of a factual basis), then I don't think Chief Khatib would be our police chief any longer.

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deec 2 years, 4 months ago

Um...how would you read about it if the police don't release any information?

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

Are you saying you have special inside communication with the police about their investigations? How are you able to get this information, is it through some official position? This sounds very strange, that you know more about the investigations than the general public? If the police are communicating with select citizens, I would prefer that to be open and regulated through the commission. I know of some odd resolutions, just straight dismissals, to complaints, but that is because I was a witness to one, and knew a person who's harm was not investigated.
I saw one officer just shoot a dog on our street when the dog jumped out of it's owners window, It was not an aggressive dog, and the response was immediate, the dog jumped to the side walk while the office was talking to several people, he turned and shot. Several neighbors and I saw this, and were horrified. The cop said the dog was aggressive toward him, none of us were ever given the chance to refute his story. he was not growling, or even directly approaching the officer, it just surprised him. I don't mean he should be fired, everyone makes mistakes and have their side of the story, but one sided stories are poor communication. Perhaps a citizen's review board could encourage some active theft, at least more aggressive investigation, perhaps increased communication about theft threats, better communication. The police has the right not to have to work alone, using complaint only based communications. If there was a citizen's review board it should not just be reactive but proactive.

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commonsenselawrence 2 years, 4 months ago

Pace, where in my post did I ever say I had inside information or was communicating with an official??? I simply said from what I have read in the paper is that the PD has received complaints, investigated them, and disciplined the officers who did wrong...they are policing themselves much like any corporation would do.....and they have have made those complaints public.
Why do you see the need to know all of the information on a specific complaint? Maybe the complaintant does not want their "dirty laundry" aired in the public. If I knew my complaint would be printed for my family, friends, and general public to read, that would heavily factor in my decision to step forward and file one...just food for thought.

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

Commonsl "I have not read one, not one, case where the department has acted inappropriately during an Internal Affairs investigation." I assumed you were reading reports on how the department had acted during internal affairs investigations, but if that is not what you meant, I accept you did not mean you had any direct knowledge.

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pace 2 years, 4 months ago

The police actually would have more power if they joined the community in creating what we all want, good policing, community trust. I thank the officers for their duty and I know it is not an easy job, it is dangerous. The police refusing to consider a citizens review board is telling the community they are not part of the solution. It should not be the police against everyone else in deciding community need of fair and open enforcement. The commission should put in on the agenda. We are getting a new chief, it is a good time for real discussion, not just an announcement that the police don't want to work with the community.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Negative, Ghost Rider. Believe it or not, the police operate at the behest of the citizenry. The police are to be held accountable by the citizenry that employs them. And the citizenry should have input on the development and use of of police policy and procedures. The police are not an autonomous force who can do whatever they want to do. End of story, period, thank you very much, have a great day. I can't wait to see the new Citizen's Review Board in place and in action holding crooked cops' feet to the fire and having them fired and in prison, as necessary.

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James Minor 2 years, 4 months ago

Sometimes when the police make mistakes, innocent people go to jail, there lives are ruined, and the courts protect police for the sanctity of courts. A check and balance is the most effective way in insuring that police officers don't take the law into their own hands. There have been several times in cases accross the US where cops try to hide behind how hard their job is, but in the end an innocent person was assaulted leaving the citizen with expensive medical and court costs. Recently on PBS, a broadcast was devoted to officer misconduct, evidence tampering, lying and threats, by a Sheriffs department. It took 25 years for the truth to be revealed. The result was an innocent man and his family's life was destroyed for the benefit of the Sheriff's department showing how quickly a case can be solved. The reward to the Sheriff was a state appointed judge position.

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equalaccessprivacy 2 years, 4 months ago

It likely is not completely an accident that it's mainly the ungrammarly who think the way LarryNative does--maybe why the government prefers an unlettered citizenry.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

You are correct. Do you think the average high school graduate of today is smarter than a graduate from 1960?

One of the founding fathers of this country once said, "The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." Look at how liberties have begun to slip away in the last 10-years. No Child Left Behind!

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Critical thinking and logic. We do not teach today's children these concepts.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

You are correct. Do you think the average high school graduate of today is smarter than a graduate from 1960?

One of the founding fathers of this country once said, "The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty." Look at how liberties have begun to slip away in the last 10-years. No Child Left Behind!

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Odd, double-post. I swear, I only hit the button once.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

Grammar is lacking as well....

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Leslie Swearingen 2 years, 4 months ago

Yes, you show me someone who uses bad grammar and dollars to donuts he is a bad 'en headed fer trouble.

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Randall Uhrich 2 years, 4 months ago

Complete transparency is the only way to eliminate abuse by the police (and all public officials). If they're not hiding anything, what would be their objections?

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

"If you're not doing anything wrong, why do you care if we look?"

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FlintlockRifle 2 years, 4 months ago

"""Extensive training to be labeled a professional""""------real good example would be our own USA goverment officials then?// huh

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 4 months ago

I do believe police need to be more transparent. But come on, most of those complaints are cops being sarcastic or rude. Who cares? The lazy ones (not taking a report or not doing paperwork) is a bigger issue.

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NotASquishHead 2 years, 4 months ago

I don't know why everyone always screams for a CRB. We already have one! We have a board of citizens who have been chosen and elected to oversee the police department and ensure it is run correctly, including the investigation of complaints. We have an elected board of City Commissioners! If you don't like how they are overseeing the department, then vote them out! We don't need another committee or board in this city, it is right there with hiring another consultant!

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Gedanken 2 years, 4 months ago

Kathib needs to remember that the police work for the community. The community needs to be able to trust the group of people chosen to enforce the laws. This requires transparency!

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 4 months ago

If democracy is to work, the public must know what the government is doing and why.

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