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Archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Former police sergeant’s federal lawsuit against city alleges racial discrimination, wrongful termination

February 19, 2013

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Former Lawrence Police Sgt. Michael Monroe filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

Former Lawrence Police Sgt. Michael Monroe filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

A 20-year veteran of the Lawrence Police Department — fired last March following traffic ticket fixing allegations — filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

According to the lawsuit, filed by former Sgt. Michael Monroe, who had worked for the Lawrence police from 1991 until March 2012, was terminated for "false and fabricated reasons that were released in public statements to the media. In actuality, Monroe was denied due process and terminated because of his race."

Monroe is seeking $1.3 million in damages in the lawsuit, which names the city of Lawrence and Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib as defendants.

In the lawsuit, Monroe admits to fixing two or three traffic tickets during a span of several years for former Kansas Athletics employee Rodney Jones, who has since been sentenced to federal prison for his role in a broader ticket scandal.

However, Monroe denies that he knew that fellow police Sgt. Matt Sarna, who resigned "involuntarily" Feb. 24, 2012, was receiving KU athletics tickets in exchange for fixing the traffic tickets. Sarna, according to the court documents, requested that Monroe fix the tickets.

Sarna, who is white, was allowed to resign from his position, while Monroe, who is black, was demoted, then fired. Monroe alleges that race played a factor in the city's decision to fire him, but allow Sarna to resign.

Monroe had unsuccessfully appealed his termination through the city's grievance process.

In court documents, Monroe also alleges numerous instances during which fellow police officers used racial and derogatory slurs in reference to Monroe's race.

David Corliss, city manager, declined comment on Tuesday, saying the city "does not comment on personnel or litigation matters."

Monroe on Monday released this statement in advance of filing the lawsuit:

"I just want to be treated fairly and want the opportunity to continue in the career that I love serving the people in my home town of Lawrence, Kansas. I would also like to express my gratitude to my family, friends and all of the people in the community who have supported me over these last few months."

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 Sarna and Monroe.

Such forms, required when an officer in the state leaves a department, prompted the commission to investigate the cases. The investigation could have led to license revocation, barring Monroe and Sarna from working in Kansas law enforcement.

But after an investigation, no such action was taken and the case was closed, according to a spokesman for KSCPOST. The agency, however, does not comment further in such cases.

Monroe was promoted to sergeant in 2004, and he worked as a patrol supervisor until 2009. He later moved to the office of professional accountability. In 2011 he became a sergeant in the investigations division.

* For more on the contents of the lawsuit, click here.

Comments

Pepe 1 year, 5 months ago

LOL -- the cop who admits to fixing tickets was working in the "office of professional accountability"?

The fact that he has admitted to fixing tickets while working as a cop is more than sufficient grounds for his termination.

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Hoots 1 year, 5 months ago

The City has fixed tickets for KU since the first car hit town a hundred years ago. Ask any retired cop. He was only doing what he was told and following an unwritten policy that has existed here for a very long time. As usual all the big guys play stupid and throw the little guy under the bus. You people here are one seriously clueless bunch of blow hard know nothings.

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WoodsB 1 year, 5 months ago

But he only fixed two or three tickets guys.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow. Dude needs to take his medicine and MOVE ON.

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otto 1 year, 5 months ago

They used different means to fire the white guy but involuntary resignation sounds like a firing.

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streetman 1 year, 5 months ago

If Monroe had half a brain, he would have "resigned," also. Keeps the word "fired" off the resume.

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ironhead80 1 year, 5 months ago

Why did he fix tickets for Jones is it because he was a brotha or was it because he was a friend and a brotha? Move on!

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rlmtyco 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope everything works out for Mike, he is a very nice guy and good person. Regardless of what he has done or didnt do I wish him the best. He coached me in little league baseball and have had some dealings with him while he was a police officer. Always very pleasant to be around. Hope it works out in your favor Mike

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 5 months ago

'though I admit that I broke police department policy, I'm sure I was fired because of my race'. I hope that case gets as much attention as it doesn't deserve. Ridiculous. The principle of 'crying wolf' seems to be at play here - the more times people wrongfully claim racial discrimination at work the less actual attention REAL racial discrimination cases will get.

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh lord I actually agree with you

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colicole81 1 year, 5 months ago

If this truly was a case of discrimination why is he just now bringing it up? It's funny that the race card wasn't played until all of his other hands had been dealt. As I've said in the past Mike needs to move on. Other people may or may not have been involved. The ones that were involved all played a different role and were disciplined accordingly. He made a mistake, he needs to take responsibility, stop blaming everyone else and making excuses. Lawrence doesn't want him back. He treated people unfairly all because a friend asked him to. If I would have asked him to fix my ticket would he? No, of course not. MOVE ON! Matt Sarna resigned "involuntary", which means he was fired. Mike was just demoted, which means he still had a job. It sounds like maybe Matt could file a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination because where I come from having a job beats being unemployed any day.

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colicole81 1 year, 5 months ago

I’m going to assume that you are Mike’s attorney sister due the fact that you seem quite emotional about this. Since you made a point to respond to almost every comment, I will try to reply to the ones that pertain to me.
So you’re an attorney, good for you! I don’t need a law degree or laws to teach me what is wrong and right. The argument that “everyone does it” is weak at best and does not mean that is right. I am not surprised that ticket fixing was just recently addressed in company policy. I am surprised that it needs to be addressed at all. As I stated before laws, traffic included, are put into place to keep the public safe. Once the ticket is issued it should be up to judge to dismiss not some cop doing a “favor for a friend”. The same goes for any other crime committed. Mike’s job was to keep the public safe, by fixing tickets he failed to do that job. He let someone commit a crime without consequence. I don’t care whether it was against policy or against the law, I do care that it is unethical. Those charged with the duty of protecting the public must be held to extremely high moral standards. My comment about Matt filing a case for discrimination was a sarcastic poke at the “utterly ridiculous” fact that Mike has. He was on the force 20 years without any complaint of racial discrimination. Now all of the sudden he claims lost his job because he is black. I have many friends, including several cops. I would never ask them to fix a ticket for me and I would never expect them to. If I make a mistake, I know that must pay for it.
I noticed that in one of your comments you wrote “Mike is one of the most honest, kind, and ethical people you will EVER meet, should you be so blessed to do so.” For the record, I have met Mike, his wife, and his children. I have known several of his family members for years. I would agree that he is a nice guy and it is a shame that he being made an example of, however, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t make a mistake that he now must pay for. Hopefully, now that the City has made it clear that ticket fixing will not be tolerated it will happen no more. I hope that Mike can find peace with the situation and that he and his family can move on.

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colicole81 1 year, 5 months ago

I did read what you wrote. Did you read what I wrote? It may be common practice but it shouldn't be. That is no excuse and that doesn't mean he didn't make a mistake. Mike may have been treated unfairly, however, I do not believe it was because he was black. It was more likely because there was public pressure to discipline those involved. Obviously we disagree and we could go rounds all day. I know from experience how it feels to be fired for "a common practice". I know what it's like when all your superiors have done the same thing and even promoted it. It took years for me to look back and realize that I should have and did known better. I do wish Mike the best and again I hope you can all find peace.

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maisy 1 year, 5 months ago

You people have no clue what actualy happened, but yet you have condemed a man for what you believe is gospel from the media's mouth. He might admit to fixing a ticket, but from the request of Sarna. Monroe might have had the ability to fix the ticket, to where Sarna did not. Sarna's friend was issued a ticket and Monroe helped his friend (Sarna). It gets no more detailed than that, but yet you say he broke the law. There was no law broken here, maybe policy, if it is so written in the departments policy.

Everyone is quick to degrade a cop because he is held to a higher moral, but heaven forbid we hate the fireman, cause they save lives you know. ....and cops don't?

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

"Monroe admits to fixing two or three traffic tickets during a span of several years for former Kansas Athletics employee Rodney Jones"

If you break rules you get fired, doesn't matter if your friend asked you too or not. Now that he is out of a job he wants to cry wolf and for someone else to give him money.

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

Section 13-107

http://lawrenceks.org/city_code/system/files/chapter13.pdf

Chapter 1

1-111 SCOPE OF APPLICATION. Any person convicted of doing any of the acts or things prohibited or made unlawful or the failing to do any of the things commanded to be done, as specified and set forth in this Code, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and punished in accordance with Section 1-112. Each day any violation of this Code continues shall constitute a separate offense. (Code 1981)

1-112 GENERAL PENALTY. Whenever any offense is declared by any provision of this Code, absent a specific or unique punishment prescribed, the offender shall be punished in accordance with this section. (Ord. 7259) (A) A fine of not less than $1 or more than $1,000; or (B) Imprisonment in the city jail for not more than 180 days; or (C) Both such fine and imprisonment not to exceed (A) and (B) above. (Code 1981)

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maisy 1 year, 5 months ago

You can't tell me that you or anyone else that makes a post on this site has broken a policy. If you say you haven't, your #$#@ liar. Policy's are a guideline and sometimes broken for good reasons. I'm not saying fixing a ticket is a good reason, but everyone makes it sound like Monroe committed murder and should be held hanged. Policys are put in place because someone did something at some point to have the policy created, which allows the employer to take action if need be. Is there recourse for all policy's that are broken? NO. If you or anyone else thinks so, I have ocean front property hear in Kansas for you to buy.
Fixing a ticket is not a huge deal that everyone makes it out to be. It basically means the city did not get any money from the violator. It's no different than a cop giving out warning instead of issuing a ticket. If the wool has been pulled over your eyes and you have been unaware, its a courtesy that cops have about writing other people tickets, whether its another cop that was pulled over, their grandmother, or a friend. Its been done for years and will continue to be done, where one cop asks another, "Hey, I've known this guy for years...." or "I grew up with this guy my whole life and he's a real nice guy....". Whatever the reason, it happens and will continue to happen. In this case, it was over event tickets. You people are sore that you got the ticket and had to pay it and weren't lucky enough to know a cop.

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

You can not be a person in law enforcement and take brides, you should be fired if you do because that shows you can be bought and are not capable of doing your job, doesn't mean you are an evil person, you just don't have what it takes to do that job. We are not talking about someone who dozed off in the police care on the midnight shift for a few minutes and got caught. And as for fixing tickets for friends/family and what not, they should be punished for that also, the good old boy network needs to go. I was a MP for years, don't try to make it sound like all people in law enforcement are like him.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 5 months ago

"No clue"?????? We don't know every single detail, Maisy, but all one has to do is read the companion story to this, at this link, http://www2.kusports.com/news/2013/fe..., to get a pretty good idea that it involved police corruption, albeit on a small scale.

That article reads in part: "Monroe fixed two to three traffic tickets for former KU Athletic's employee Rodney Jones at Sarna's request. Monroe and Sarna both then received athletics tickets from Jones."

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maisy 1 year, 5 months ago

sycho, Those are only allegations the department claimed against Monroe. This was not a court trial where he was found guilty of those allegations. So "Yes", you have no clue of what actually occurred. So you obviously believe everything your hear or read. You should know by now in your elderly mind that what ever is written is not always true. Its someones interpretation of the truth or their views of what happened. Take for instance the weatherman.... you probably beileve every word they say. tisk, tisk

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

It is not allegations if he admitted to it, which he did

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George_Braziller 1 year, 5 months ago

Huh? What does a police officer being fired for fixing tickets have to do with hating firemen?

"Everyone is quick to degrade a cop because he is held to a higher moral, but heaven forbid we hate the fireman, cause they save lives you know. ....and cops don't?"

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colicole81 1 year, 5 months ago

Your right, we don’t know what happened. What we do know, we learned from Mr. Monroe because he continues to bring attention the whole situation. He himself admitted to fixing tickets. Any other details are impertinent. As a police officer his job was to keep Lawrence residents safe and uphold the law. He failed to do either the minute that he “helped his friend”. When you don’t do the job for which you were hired you get fired. It’s as simple as that.
No one is degrading a cop. We are degrading a man who is no longer a cop because of his poor decisions. Cops save lives every day and do a job that few are cut out for. We hold them to a higher moral because they are the leaders of our society. If a fireman failed at his job he too would be fired.

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lunacydetector 1 year, 5 months ago

sgt. monroe is an upstanding likeable guy. i hope he prevails in his lawsuit.

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ghostofrealityspeaks 1 year, 5 months ago

Come on Mike, let it go. You are making yourself look like a fool. The race card, really? I guess your promotion and all the other assignments you held during your tenure were because of racism. Some would say you got those assignments because of your skin color. Now to say you experienced racism is just a complete joke. You were offered a demotion and that was an insult to your ego so you sealed your own fate. Knowing how tight you and Sarna were, it's hard to believe you were not more involved. I wish you the best in moving on with your life but you need to this go. The days of law enforcement are behind you.

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SinoHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Well, a couple potential points:

1) As the higher ranking officer, the expectations for conduct were higher for then-sergeant Monroe than for officer Sarna

2) Perhaps Mr. Monroe should have resigned/offered to resign immediately when the allegations came out rather than taking his chances. We don't know for certain that Sarna was offered any opportunites that Mr. Monroe was not, only that Mr. Monroe was ultimately fired

Nevertheless, a bit of an unfortunate story. I personally believe that, while Mr. Monroe's offences may have been more minor than Mr. Sarna's, demotion/termination is the appropriate course of action when ethics are compromised in the manner they were.

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Bob Forer 1 year, 5 months ago

Although our culture has come a long way in the last half century regarding civil rights, there is no denying that isolated pockets of institutionalized racial discrimination still exist, especially in the South. However, to the best of knowledge, the Chief of Police is hardly a racist, and I surmise there were justifiable reasons for the dismissal. Playing the "race card" without a justifiable basis diminishes the plight of the folks who are still subject to racial discrimination, and is just as ugly as the real discrimination itself.

I have never met Officer Moore, and although he sounds like somebody who was well-liked and well respected by many people, he made a very grave mistake and needs to move on. IMHO.

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theoljhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

Wow! Wait a minute, the other guy that was fired/forced to resign/quit/whatever, he was white! Hey, sounds like reverse discrimination to me! Sounds like he has a case too!

1

mcrckchlk 1 year, 5 months ago

20 years serving the force... if he was fired because of his race I'm quite certain they would've done it sooner. Sounds like he's just trying to start a bunch of hoopla so he can make a quick money grab.

2

thebigspoon 1 year, 5 months ago

His sister is an attorney, I am sure he has an idea about what he is doing ?????

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

I believe the issue implied was bribery. I'm surmise a lot of tickets get "fixed" BUT without bribery.

If only Sarna was accepting tickets why would Officer Monroe be terminated?

Do lawyers get paid to fix tickets? or have the infraction reduced or whatever?

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Thinking_Out_Loud 1 year, 5 months ago

I believe most of us here are looking at this from the wrong perspective. The issue is not "did this person deserve to be fired" or "did this person do something wrong." The issue here is, "given the situation, was this person treated equally as other similarly situated people?" Assuming the answer is "no," the next question is "if not, was this person's race the reason he was not treated equally?"

We are also trying to decide this case without having all the facts in front of us. Fortunately for all of us, persons with more legal training, more expertise in the area of identifying the key questions to answer and finding the answers, and more time to get to the truth of the matter than those of us commenting here will actually decide this case. After reading fifteen or so paragraphs about it, I certainly don't feel qualified to say whether or not either wrongful termination or racial discrimination occurred.

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mcrckchlk 1 year, 5 months ago

You may be correct, but either way demanding $1.3 million is a little excessive... makes the guy seem like he's using his race for selfish gain.

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nekansan 1 year, 5 months ago

The more relevant question might be what disciplinary action has been taken against other officers who have "fixed" tickets for members of our community in the same time span? It seems that Monroe simply had a few speeding tickets dismissed as a favor to another officer, Bad judgement perhaps, but massive criminal conspiracy I think not. I'd bet he is far from the first officer to do so. If that is the case his disciplinary action should be consistent with other officers that have done the same. I'm betting it was not. And that means a problem for the city.

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farr700 1 year, 5 months ago

He wasn't just "doing a favor". He profited (both did) and got basketball tickets in exchange. I fixed tickets, but was merely a favor, and didn't "profit" from it.

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kujayhawk 1 year, 5 months ago

I know the family very well and I'm shocked and saddened they decided to play the race card. I thought Mike was above using race as an excuse for a money grab.

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Patriot2 1 year, 5 months ago

Way to go! Open that "race" door as wide as possible......... at the same time admitting to fixing one or two tickets.......... And wonder WHY the good police officers have to work twice as hard to win trust and respect? Monroe should be ashamed of himself for violating public trust.

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farr700 1 year, 5 months ago

Totally agree! Great post! Unbelievable, Mike...you're better than this.

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Charlie Bannister 1 year, 5 months ago

Good heavens I do believe I am living in a sort of alternate universe at times. LA cop Dorner was fired for LYING. Monroe was fired for FIXING TICKETS. I do NOT WANT law enforcement personnel lying or fixing tickets for ANYONE. These are fireable offenses and reek of dishonesty. Don't care if you are a "nice guy" or not. It is time to move on Mr. Monroe, the sooner the better. You should have learned your lesson and just went on to the next job. After all you are not barred from working in law enforcement in this state again are you? But in this day and age everyone has an ax to grind don't they? Get over yourself Monroe and stop the stupidity. Take personal responsibility and MOVE ON!!!!!

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somebodynew 1 year, 5 months ago

Glad you could find a way to throw in the 'union' thing. I guess it doesn't matter that # 1 there is no official police union, and #2 that is not an issue anywhere in this story.

Maybe I should just say it is Bush's fault. That would be about a close as your comment.

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lawupsman 1 year, 5 months ago

My dad always asked me "if you're friend asked you to jump off a cliff would you"?

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greenworld 1 year, 5 months ago

Pretty sure the lawsuit probly started as wrongful termination, the whole racial discrimation thing was probly added by attorneys advice being it could make him more money and its something that sticks better than just wrongful termination as we all know that you can be fired for anything and there is nothing that can be done about it. I think he has the right idea to where if he can go against his best friend (the white guy) they can split the money in the end. Seen much stranger things happen in my life. The fact is whats sad was the whole damn department under Olin had alot of corruption in it and these two guys just happen to be the fall guys and they were two of the best in the department. Just remember its only cheating if u get caught, just ask Tiger Woods.

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LeBo 1 year, 5 months ago

Why are you asking the taxpayers to pay? Just sue the Chief, he got money, I don't!

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 5 months ago

Is Rodney Jones the only person in the history of LPD that was able to get tickets fixed?

Or is it because of Rodney Jones that that this situation has surfaced?

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Anthony Mall 1 year, 5 months ago

I don't have a problem with a couple speeding tickets getting fixed... Kind of making a mountain out of an ant hill here... This happens in every city(cops fixing a couple minor speeding tickets for friends and family) all across the country and probably still here in Lawrence... If he never got tickets, I don't see the issue... He wasn't fixing drug busts, wife beaters, DUI's (we know how much hell gets raised for those first time offenders), or even the hated red bud lane busts we hear about on a weekly basis... These were just speeding tickets, if you can find that he indeed only fixed a "few" and never received any type of compensation he should of never of been let go... I look at it like this, we have all done something stupid at some point at work and got written up or warned, maybe even suspended... I don't see how the case with this officer is any different... I know I have received "warnings" from officers many times for speeding and probably deserved a ticket...

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elliottaw 1 year, 5 months ago

Fixing tickets for friends and family is illegal, plain and simple, and if other cops are doing it they should also be let go because they do not have the morals to properly work the job

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Anthony Mall 1 year, 5 months ago

So is crossing the street outside of a cross-walk... Two bicycles riding side by side on the street!!! People would raise hell if they received tickets or even warnings for that... If you honestly think no other dept. has officers that do this then you are sadly mistaken!!! Ever wonder why cops never get speeding tickets, families, the chiefs wife, bill self, or any other infractions??? Get real!!! Monroe should of never of lost his job!! Never saw him at any KU games... If fixing a couple tickets is grounds for termination then a lot more should be fired!!!

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royalpain 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks for sticking up for Mike. I would love to see his WHOLE story told before this is all over.

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