Former Lawrence police officer is under investigation for sexually biased policing while working for sheriff’s office and LPD
photo by: Lawrence Police Department
Updated at 6:58 p.m. Wednesday
A man who worked at both the Lawrence Police Department and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is at risk of losing his certification to be a law enforcement officer after allegations of sexually biased policing targeting young women.
Brad Williams is currently under investigation by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (KSCPOST) and a recommendation for a revocation of his certification was filed on March 8, according to documents obtained by the Journal-World.
The investigation began after a complaint was filed on Aug. 31, 2020, about his conduct during the arrest of a skateboarder, Duc Tran, in Lawrence in 2019, as the Journal-World has reported. During that investigation, the Lawrence Police Department revealed multiple concerns with Williams’ policing, including the use of excessive force.
The summary of revocation document alleges that while Williams was employed at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office he disproportionately arrested women at a rate of 55% women to 45% men compared with the rest of the sheriff’s office, whose average was 29% women to 71% men. The document also alleges that while at the sheriff’s office Williams received multiple complaints that he was targeting women based on their jobs as exotic dancers.
Williams also pulled over off-duty female officers multiple times before recognizing who they were. One officer reported that he pulled her over four times and never issued her a citation. Another officer reported that he pulled her over for going 32 mph in a 30 mph zone, according to the documents.
Williams worked at the sheriff’s office from 2011 to 2017 before taking a position at the Lawrence Police Department. The filings allege that Williams’ bias continued while working at LPD.
An investigation by Lawrence police that focused on Williams’ arrests for operating under the influence (OUI) and minor in possession (MIP) showed that between May of 2017 and September of 2020, Williams arrested women for OUI 64% of the time while the rest of the department averaged only 27% women arrested for OUI.
When issuing citations for MIP, Williams averaged 99% women. When his MIP citations were removed from the department’s overall numbers, the department averaged 56% of its citations for women.
The department’s investigation found that Williams arrested 147 women and 83 men for OUI, and he issued 83 citations for MIP to women with just one citation to men.
When interviewed by KSCPOST investigators about the alleged bias at the sheriff’s office, Williams denied that he was ever confronted about his behavior, despite documentation from the office to the contrary.
When asked about his discrepancies while working at the Lawrence Police Department, Williams indicated that he believed there was a stereotypical difference between genders and said that men were “calmer” while women were “fearful” when dealing with law enforcement. He said that men at a bar, even if underage, were more likely to high-five an officer while women were more likely to leave the bar when officers arrived.
Williams resigned from the Lawrence Police Department on Jan. 6, 2021, amid a lawsuit against the city that accused him of excessive force when arresting Tran, the skateboarder, in 2019, as reported by the Journal-World. Tran is suing the city for $3 million. Depositions in the federal case with Lawrence police officers are scheduled to occur this week.
The certification revocation recommendation cites state laws and regulations regarding biased policing and good moral character in concluding that Williams should lose his certification.
Williams’ certification has not been revoked, and it wasn’t clear in the filings when the final decision would be made. According to KSCPOST records, Williams has not resumed work as a law enforcement officer in Kansas since his resignation in 2021.
When reached for comment Wednesday, Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister said Williams’ tenure at the sheriff’s office preceded his election as sheriff. However, after taking office in January 2021 and reviewing personnel records, Armbrister decided to forward information about Williams “to pertinent law enforcement agencies and prosecutors.”
Armbrister said he hoped Williams’ certification would be revoked.
“It is my duty and responsibility to forward information about an officer’s conduct that could be material information in prosecuting a pending case or affect that officer’s standing and certification as a law enforcement officer,” Armbrister told the Journal-World. “As an agency, we hold our deputies and employees to the highest standards of conduct possible, and the community demands that, for good reason. I support any efforts or decisions to prevent this former employee from being a law enforcement officer ever again.”
Lawrence Police Department spokesperson Laura McCabe said in an email to the Journal-World that the police department’s involvement in the investigation ended “when KSCPOST took over and Williams’ employment ended.”
“That’s the appropriate evolution of events and we will trust the agency’s informed decisions going forward,” McCabe said.