In a move that should surprise no one, the State of Kansas ramps up it's movement toward more crazy legislation by offering out this doozy: when you report police abuse, you must swear out an affadavit which makes you subject to felony charges if any portion is 'shown false' and the officer is provided all of this information ahead of time.
The Kansas House Standing Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice has introduced a bill that will require private citizens who file complaints against police officers to sign an affidavit, acknowledging that if their allegations are proven false, they can be charged with perjury, which is a felony charge.
Furthermore, this bill prohibits a Kansas law enforcement agency from opening an investigation into a complaint if another law enforcement agency has already investigated the complaint and found in favor of the officer.
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.
Since most charges are dismissed out of hand, filing a second report could potentially make you a felon just for reporting abuse.
The Washington Post investigates the details of this legislation.
But the bill also has a couple other troubling provisions. First, it lets officers who are the subject of complaints avoid answering questions until they’re given the complaint with all documenting evidence in its entirety. No respectable police detective would conduct an investigation this way. Any police interrogator will tell you that you never let a suspect know everything you know about the allegations against him. A good cop will have a true story that exonerates him, regardless of what’s stated in the complaint or how the complaint is revealed to him. A bad cop who is given the entire complaint can construct a narrative informed by everything the investigators know, safe in the knowledge that there is no additional information that could later contradict him.
Second, the bill would prohibit any police agency from investigating a complaint against an officer if another police agency has already found the complaint to be without merit. In practical terms, that means a sheriff’s department or the state police couldn’t investigate the possibility that a city or town police department was covering up misconduct.
In other words, if you think there has been police abuse, or a misuse of the badge, problems with service then tough. If it's been investigated by one police department and it's been cleared, then you're reporting it to another police body (like a county sheriff instead of a local police force) you may have just committed a felony.
This standard effectively legalizes police retaliation by providing the accused officer your information before the claim even proceeds to the next level.
A few weeks ago, Kansas Democratic candidate Paul Davis had a suggestion:
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, the likely Democratic candidate for governor, said Friday the Legislature should end its session 20 days early after becoming an embarrassment for the state in the wake of bills that have attracted unflattering national attention.
“The session has devolved into a circus that is just bringing a lot of embarrassment in the state,” he said.
Republicans dismissed Davis’ call as a campaign stunt and said the Legislature still has important work to do. House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, sought to turn attention to a number of bills he said would stimulate economic growth.
Because this is the kind of important work that will stimulate the economy.
It's not like anything could go wrong, right?
Kansas. Staying classy.