WICHITA, Kan. — Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter and a lawyer for the Kansas Highway Patrol were just two of the many people speaking out against HB2698 before a House committee.
The bill would require anyone submitting a complaint against a law enforcement officer to sign an affidavit.
It would give police the power to arrest people who file complaints against officers that are proven false.
And the measure would prevent any other law enforcement agency from taking up the investigation once it had been closed.
Easter said if this new law passed it would discourage people from coming forward with complaints, interfere with internal investigations and hurt the department's relationship with the public. "It is going to hamper those relationships and it will also hamper law enforcement agencies from holding their folks accountable to those complaints", said Easter.
Reuben Eckels is Deputy Director of Sunflower Community Action, a community activist group. He said the bill would have a chilling affect on those who might have a legitimate grievance against law enforcement. "I think it would really scare them off because they would look at it as another example of how law enforcement takes care of its own", said Eckels.
The bill was filed anonymously be a house committee. Ironic since the bill would do away with anonymous complaints against cops.
Sheriff Easter said there were 32 external complaints against the department in 2013. All were handled under the department's current complaint investigation policy. And Easter said the law already allows for the prosecution of those who make false complaints against law enforcement or corrections officers.