Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Probe finds no impropriety in complaint against Bonner police

December 7, 2011

While the city of Bonner Springs has found no wrongdoing after a complaint was made against its Police Department, it will create a policy to try to prevent future concerns of impropriety.

At the Nov. 28 meeting of the Bonner Springs City Council, Pam Kirkpatrick told the council she thought the police department had violated state laws when an officer allegedly contacted her and asked her to drop charges against a disorderly customer. John Helin, city manager, said the incident was largely a misunderstanding and no state laws were broken, but he has asked the police and all city departments to create a policy for correct steps to take when contacting complainants.

Kirkpatrick, who is general manager of the Bonner Springs Mr. Goodcents, took time during the public comments portion of last week’s council meeting to share her side of the story with the council.

She said she called the police over the summer when a customer in her restaurant became unruly after being told Mr. Goodcents no longer carried a type of sandwich the chain had previously carried as a special promotion.

She said the customer was yelling at her and her employees, and he was making motions as if he was going to hit her. Kirkpatrick had no complaints about the police officers who came to her assistance, and the man eventually pleaded guilty and was fined in court.

Kirkpatrick alleged that shortly after the incident, a different officer contacted her to ask if she really wanted to press charges because the man being charged had cancer. Kirkpatrick considered the matter but decided that being ill was not an excuse for rude behavior, and so she called the officer back to tell him she wanted to continue with pressing charges.

Kirkpatrick said the officer later contacted her a second time, again asking her to drop the charges and telling her he was a friend of the man’s family, but Kirkpatrick refused. She said she later learned the man being charged was a former police officer.

Kirkpatrick said one of her relatives, who is training to become a police officer, told her that contacting her in this way was in violation of a state statute, so she contacted the chief of police and the city prosecutor, asking that the officer in question be reprimanded in some way.

She said she didn’t feel the city took any action, so she also contacted the KBI and the Attorney General’s Office and decided to inform the council.

“Nobody seems to understand how I felt when I called the Police Department to ask for help,” Kirkpatrick told the council. “I feel like it’s been swept under the rug.”

The council called an executive session to discuss the matter but took no action after the session.

Helin said he conducted an inquiry into the matter and informed Kirkpatrick of the results.

“Based on my inquiry, I determined that no law or policy had been violated by the officer contacting her,” Helin said. “In fact, she was contacted to let her know that the court action would be continued due to the fact that the individual was at the Mayo Clinic.”

Helin said the officer informed Ms. Kirkpatrick that the individual was terminally ill and wanted to confirm that she wanted to continue to pursue the case. The city prosecutor later did the same.

“While nothing was done wrong by either the Police Department nor the prosecutor, I wanted to ensure that in the future there is not even the appearance of impropriety,” Helin said. “Therefore I directed each department to coordinate a policy to clearly define when complainants would be contacted by the police department.”

Kirkpatrick now says that while she doesn’t want the officer in question to lose his job, she still thinks more should be done to reprimand him.

“I was a little upset, and basically they just said there’s nothing we are going to do about it,” she said. “I don’t understand the good-old-boy system, and it’s very frustrating.”

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