KSN investigates: Local law enforcement officers’ credibility in question

WICHITA, Kansas — Law enforcement officers accused of wrongdoing, some even accused of crimes, remain on the force in Wichita and Sedgwick County and Thursday the city released information that at least two employees were convicted of felonies.

KSN is investigating how the Wichita Police Department and Sedgwick Co. Sheriff’s Office handle these officers, labeled “Brady/Giglio” status, and how it can effect cases that go to trial.

“We have eight current employees that have Brady/Giglio material for various reasons,” said Sedgwick Co. Sheriff Jeff Easter.

On Thursday, Sheriff Easter outlined the limitations of responsibilities that can be carried out by these deputies.

“Some deputies that are commissioned. Those deputies are no longer working and have not been working for quite some time in a street capacity,” said Sheriff Easter. “They are positioned in other parts of the department, such as judicial division [and] in the transportation division.”

Wichita Police Deputy Chief John Speer confirmed Thursday that WPD has a total of 26 employees with Brady/Giglio impairment.

The city’s law department also released a statement Thursday indicating that there are currently 15 field services personnel with the status in the Wichita Police Department, 6 support services personnel, and 5 investigations personnel. The employees are reportedly made up of commissioned officers and non-commissioned personnel.

Of those 26 misconduct Brady/Giglio reports, more than half of the employees landed on the list because of some sort of false information or report. The crimes and reported misconduct includes:

  • 10 Misdemeanor convictions
  • 2 Felony convictions
  • 7 Gave false information/depart from the truth, and
  • 7 False reports.

“The two felony convictions are not commissioned police officers,” said Deputy Chief Speer.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) confirmed with KSN Thursday that these felonies were, in fact, committed by animal control officers. These officers are not in the bargaining unit. The convictions were prior to the officers’ hire at WPD.

“Most of those are historical issues,” said Sedgwick Co. District Attorney Marc Bennett, “If an employee were to commit crimes like, a crime, they’d be gone.”

RELATED LINK: Wichita Responds to Records Request (PDF)

bradygigliostatsKSN filed a KORA request with Wichita Police in January to learn how many Brady/Giglio officers were on the force, but our request was denied. It is below. After filing the request again, the City of Wichita Law department responded with more information. The report says that those officers or employees had 2 felony convictions, 10 misdemeanor convictions, 7 instances of giving false information or departing from the truth and 7 false reports.

According to the FOP, in 2011, there were 30 Wichita Police employees on the Brady/Giglio list, including 10 who worked in police records and animal control departments. Six police employees have since retired or left work at WPD, leaving 14 remaining commissioned Wichita Police officers on the list.

That number is slightly changed from the information released by City of Wichita attorneys, who indicated 15 officers, with a total of 31 total police employees.

WPD KORA Denial p. 1WPD KORA Denial p. 2The Brady/Giglio status of an officer can directly impact cases sent to court. Each law enforcement agency is required to inform the district attorney and defense attorneys when these officers could be called to testify on the witness stand.

“Brady/Giglio is simply stating that it must be disclosed to the defense that somebody may have something in their file or in their history that could allow them to be impeached if on the stand as a witness,” said Lieutenant David Mattingly, with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. “We want to try to place people in a position where they may not have to become a witness.”

“The big picture is you don’t want to put a witness on the stand who has issues in his or her past whether or not he’s a cop or a civilian,” said District Attorney Marc Bennett. “But under circumstances like that, that doesn’t mean they can’t testify or be believed, the question is do we tell the defense and the answer is of course you do.”

The status also changes officers’ daily assignments, limiting their eligible case work and according to the current policy in place, often being “reassigned to non-critical positions within the Police Department.”

Members of the Wichita Police Department that have been identified as Brady/Giglio status will not be able to participate in these assignments:

  1. Critical Accident Team CAT,
  2. Critical Incident Stress Management Team CISMT,
  3. Community Policing CP,
  4. Any police officer assignment in the Investigations Division,
  5. Explosive Ordinance Device EOD,
  6. Field Training Officer FTO,
  7. Special Community Action Team SCAT,
  8. Special Weapons and Tactical Team SWAT,
  9. Mounted Unit,
  10. Police Polygraph Examiner.

According to current Wichita Police policy, an officer can be classified Brady/Giglio status and are eligible for potential impeachment for a number of reasons, including:

  • Any agency/department sustained finding of misconduct related to truthfulness;
  • Any agency/department finding of misconduct related to racial bias;
  • Any criminal convictions involving acts of dishonesty;
  • Any present allegations of misconduct under investigation.

“We’re talking about people who, for the most part, engaged in some fairly minor personnel violation,” said Bennett.

The fate for those officers on the force, however, may still be in question.

“I can’t answer any questions on what this means to the future because we don’t know. We are looking at all different avenues in how to address this particular situation,” said Sheriff Easter.

To view the legal outline provided by DA Marc Bennett for the Brady/Giglio case, click here.

The FOP President P.J. Zamorano released a statement Wednesday to KSN, regarding the matter. It reads:

“The Fraternal Order of Police, Wichita, Lodge #5 challenged Policy 905 (Brady-Giglio) by filing a grievance on behalf of 14 grievants arguing that the policy affected ‘terms and conditions’ of the officers’ employment, imposed (by the City) without negotiating, and it was unreasonable… The Fraternal Order of Police, Wichita, Lodge #5 and the City are currently negotiating a replacement policy and are engaged in discussions at this time as a result of the arbitration hearing settlement.”

The FOP is currently negotiating with the City of Wichita over the policy on how to deal with police employees on the Brady/Giglio list; whether they will remain employed with WPD and in what capacity.

According to a settlement that cost the city $28,000 in 2011, the FOP says the policy reached in 2011, that would result in the termination of officers with dishonest conduct, was not properly negotiated.

The next set of negotiation meetings to reach a new contract settlement is scheduled for September 25-26.

KSN began researching the records months ago. In fact, we asked 10 different law enforcement agencies across the state of Kansas whether they had any officers on staff who had credibility issues.

Five departments responded to our KORA requests that they had none of these officers. They include: Hutchinson, Garden City, Great Bend, and Saline County.

The Derby Police Department refused to say.

Garden City Police Chief James Hawkins told KSN that he terminates dishonest officers because “it would be totally impractical to assign such an officer to a situation that would ultimately require court testimony, (which could potentially be absolutely every assignment).”

Reno County Sheriff Randy Henderson said there are no deputies working under the Brady/Giglio status there. He wrote, “I terminate officers for being dishonest.”

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