August 21, 2014

About 30 Wichita police employees were on dishonesty list

In 2013, Wichita police Capt. John Speer testified that the Police Department had about 30 personnel who had been flagged as having committed crimes or violations involving dishonesty that had to be disclosed to prosecutors.

In January 2013, Wichita police Capt. John Speer testified that the Police Department had about 30 employees who had been flagged as having committed crimes or violations involving dishonesty that had to be disclosed to prosecutors.

According to Speer’s testimony, one of them was a lieutenant, three were sergeants, five were detectives and most of the rest were officers. A couple were animal control officers assigned to the Police Department. One of the staffers worked in records.

They were all on the so-called Brady/Giglio list, which takes its name from court rulings saying that prosecutors have to give to defense attorneys any information that might be used to challenge a witness’s testimony. Police are often key witnesses for prosecutors.

One of the sergeants was on the list for giving false information to a supervisor during an inquiry or investigation in 2001, Speer testified, according to a transcript of a deposition he gave to a lawyer representing the police union.

“I think it had to do with a homicide case, but I don’t remember the specifics,” said Speer, then a captain who headed the department’s professional standards bureau.

Apparently, most of the personnel on the list had received letters from Police Chief Norman Williams in July 2011, saying that they had been flagged as having Brady/Giglio issues.

At the time, as part of a legal battle with the city, the police union was trying to determine which of its members were on the list and why. Now, The Eagle and other media outlets are seeking the list from the city.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office disclosed on Wednesday some information about eight employees with Brady/Giglio issues.

Speer, now a deputy police chief, said Wednesday that most of those on the Police Department’s list at the time he testified are still employed by the city. He said he couldn’t comment on why they remain employed.

The department’s current policy, which has been in effect for a number of years, is that the penalty for dishonest behavior— if it is proven or “sustained” — is termination. Not all policies are retroactive, Speer said, declining to elaborate.

Paul Zamorano, president of Fraternal Order of Police, Wichita Lodge 5 said the union represents about 550 members of the Police Department. He said many of the alleged crimes or violations that the department cited in putting staff on the list date back years or decades and included some crimes committed when the people were juveniles. Some of the charges they are being effectively punished for now, Zamorano said, were dismissed through what is known as diversion or expungement.

In a letter dated Sept. 23, 2011, which is part of the court file on the legal battle between the police union and the city, Williams wrote to Hans Asmussen, then president of the FOP. Williams said he was denying the union’s request for information about all officers, detectives and sergeants affected by the Brady/Giglio policy.

“It is my understanding that if the WPD prepares a list of affected officers and provides it to the FOP, it will be a public document,” Williams said in the letter. “The Kansas Open Records Act would require it.

“Any request by attorneys, the public or the media for the same information would necessarily be granted. Once the FOP’s request is granted, neither the City nor the WPD has any ability to prevent its publication or broad distribution.”

At the time of deposition of Speer in early 2013, Steve Bukaty, a lawyer for the police union, was asking Speer who was on the list and asking about the process for determining who made the list.

One by one, Bukaty led Speer through the list at the time. Here are some of them, according to the deposition:

An officer who was found to have made false report involving sick leave or a payroll issue around 1996.

A detective who had been adjudicated for shoplifting in 1980 when he was juvenile.

A lieutenant, still employed, who got into trouble in 1989.

An officer who had a minor theft case in 1994 before she was hired as a police officer.

An animal control officer who had three misdemeanor bad-check charges in 2001.

A detective who had a violation that partly involved a failed polygraph.

An officer flagged for a worthless check in 2001.

An officer cited around 1996 for falsely reporting a crime and failing to appear.

An officer flagged for not using good judgment and for making a false report or entry.

A civilian who worked in the records section who pleaded no-contest to bad-check charges in 1996.

An animal control officer who pleaded guilty to felony theft and was placed on diversion.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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