New Kansas Bill Making it Harder to File Complaints Against Cops
A new bill currently being considered by the Kansas legislature would make it harder for citizens to file a complaint against cops. House Bill 2698, which was authored anonymously, is aimed to prevent false complaints against police officers by threatening a felony if a report is proven by a police inquiry to be unfounded.
Under the new law anyone who files a complaint against a police officer would be required to sign an affidavit swearing to the truth of the claims. If, as a result of the police-led investigation the claims prove untrue, the person issuing the complaint could be subject to arrest and felony charges for perjury.
The proposed legislation also gives the police officer named in the complaint the right to refuse comment until he has seen all the evidence against him and guarantees that once a department investigation clears the officer, the case is closed, permanently in any jurisdiction.
According to Radley Balko of the Washington Post, the proposed bill is rife for abuse.
“So you’re welcome to file a complaint. But the cop you’re complaining about will be investigated by his colleagues — and only his colleagues. If they find that he did nothing wrong, as they nearly always do, you could then be arrested for a felony.” Balko wrote, “I’m sure that people file false complaints against police officers quite often. This bill will almost certainly discourage that. But it will also almost certainly prevent legitimate victims of police abuse from coming forward, too.”
A Kansas based watchdog group, Watchdog Exposed also stressed that Kansas police already have a track record of discounting complaints filed by residents and the new bill could stop even more residents from speaking out.
“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,'” the group said. “If this bill had been law when those reports were made, everyone of those 100 people could have potentially faced a felony charge, and no other law enforcement agency would be permitted to investigate the allegations.”
Photo Credit: Ian Britton