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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Discouraging Citizens From Filing Police Complaints

      In March 2014, Kansas lawmakers considered a bill that would make it much harder for citizens to report instances of police abuse, while simultaneously putting internal affairs investigations at even greater risk of succumbing to police corruption. House Bill No. 2698 would require citizens to swear an affidavit before submitting a complaint against an officer. If any part of the complaint is later shown to be erroneous, the citizen could be prosecuted for a felony. Complaints would not be investigated until the accusers swear affidavits, according the bill's text.

     It got worse. The bill also established that police officers accused of abuse would never be questioned until after they have read and reviewed all aspects of the complaint. Ironically, this was exactly the opposite of how police interrogate citizens. Criminal suspects are never given the opportunity to review the entire case against them before being questioned.

     The bill would also mandate that all investigations are final. If one police agency found a cop to be innocent, no other agency would be allowed to review the case--even if the latter agency is a higher authority, such as the state police.

     Under the U.S. Constitution, the citizen is supposed to be protected from the government. This law and others like it protects the state against the citizen. It's not supposed to work that way.

     The bill, thankfully, did not become law.

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