There is a bill in the Kansas legislature that is a bad cop’s dream. House Bill 2698 would raise cops even higher above the rest of society by requiring anyone filing a complaint against a police officer to first sign a sworn affidavit clearly stating the allegation. If during the ensuing investigation clear evidence shows the claim to be false, then the complainant could face perjury charges.
The wording is so incredibly skewed in favor of law enforcement that it wouldn’t be surprising to find out a retired cop penned the legislation. The devil is in the details of this bill.
There is a provision in the bill that would exempt law enforcement officers from making any oral or written statements regarding a complaint filed against them until they have been made fully aware of all facts related to the allegation, received a copy of the complaint, and all evidence related to the complaint.
A person with even a modicum of common sense would realize how this provision could be abused by law enforcement. It provides police officers the opportunity to review the evidence against them in its entirety before being required to make a statement regarding the alleged incident. This is ironic, because it is counter to the manner in which police officers operate. The common man, when suspected of a crime, is never given the opportunity to review any part of the case against them prior to being questioned.
This terrible piece of legislation also states that once a complaint is found to be false a record of the allegation will not be included in the officer’s file and cannot be used against the officer in a subsequent disciplinary or promotion decision. The bill also states that once a law enforcement agency has cleared an officer of a complaint, no other law enforcement agency is allowed to open a separate investigation.
This means that the Kansas State Police would not be allowed to investigate if a local town or city police department is covering up misconduct. The complaints would only be reviewed by the implicated officer’s direct peers. If they clear him of wrongdoing, then the allegation is virtually erased and cannot be followed up on by another law enforcement agency at a later date.
According to the website Kansas Exposed the police in Wichita already have civilians conditioned not to file complaints against law enforcement.
In other words, this bill would allow police departments to arrest the people who file complaints against police officers. In Wichita, Kansas, complaints are almost always dismissed, by the Wichita Police Department, so, according to this bill and its vague wording, the WPD, could now go arrest the people who file complaints against their officers.
People in Wichita are already afraid to file complaints against the WPD, because the department has a well-known reputation for retaliating against those who do, and this bill would render such retaliation legal. Furthermore, the bill clearly prevents an outside agency, such as the Kansas Bureau of Investigations, from opening an investigation into an allegation that the WPD has already ruled upon.
According to the Racial Profiling Advisory Board, the WPD denied 100 out of 100 claims of racial profiling, ruling that each was a “false report”. If this bill had been law when those reports were made, every one of those 100 people could have potentially faced a felony charge, and no other law enforcement agency would be permitted to investigate the allegations.