Kansas legislators have proposed a law under which a person reporting police abuse automatically becomes subject to felony charges if any portion of his/her claim “is shown false.”
HB 2698 was proposed anonymously by someone on the Kansas House Standing Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice.
Should it be passed, private citizens who file complaints against police officers will be required to sign an affidavit acknowledging “that if their allegations are proven false, they can be charged with perjury, which is a felony charge.”
The bill also 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.” Thus, a sheriff’s department or the state police could not investigate the possibility that a town or city police department was covering up a case of police misconduct.
Simply put, the bill would enable police departments to arrest people for filing complaints against police officers. This seems especially problematic in a city like Wichita, where complaints are almost always dismissed – by the Wichita Police Department.
And, since most charges are dismissed, filing a second report on the same claim could potentially make you a felon.
Under the new bill, the officer who is the subject of the complaints would be able to avoid questioning entirely, until they are given “the complaint with all documenting evidence in its entirety.”
As the Washington Post criticizes, “Any police interrogator will tell you that you never let a suspect know everything you know about the allegations against him.” Providing a “bad cop” with the entire complaint would merely enable him/her to “construct a narrative informed by everything the investigators know.”
The bill would provide an accused officer with the defendant’s full information before the claim proceeds to the next level; ultimately, the bill serves as a legalization of police retaliation.
Fortunately, Kansas Democratic candidate Paul Davis suggested that “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.”
He described the session as a “circus that is just bringing a lot of embarrassment in the state.”
Photo Source: http://ksn.com