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Lawrence police had a sustained complaint of bias in the past year, latest report shows

Originally published 6:44 p.m. Friday, July 2; updated with additional information at 2:55 p.m. Thursday, July 8:

The Lawrence Police Department received three complaints of racial or bias-based policing from July 1, 2020 through Wednesday of this week, one of which was sustained, according to an annual report released Friday.

Law enforcement agencies statewide report complaints of that nature to the Kansas attorney general’s office, and the totals are publicly disclosed. In addition, the Lawrence Community Police Review Board will receive LPD’s report at its meeting Thursday.

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The complaint that was sustained was received Aug. 14, 2020, investigated by LPD’s Office of Professional Accountability, and closed March 23, 2021, according to the report. Those are the only details included, which is standard for reports of that nature.

Another complaint was reported Oct. 22, 2020, investigated by OPA, closed last Friday, June 25, and the employee or employees was/were exonerated. A third was received April 13, 2021, and waiting on court proceedings prior to the start of the OPA investigation, according to the report.

The agenda for the CPRB meeting, which contains LPD’s report, was sent out just before 5:30 p.m. Friday. Spokespeople for LPD did not immediately respond to an email from the Times sent at 5:45 p.m. asking for details about the nature of the sustained complaint, whether there was any associated use of force report, the rank of the accused officer or staff member, and that person’s current employment status with LPD.


Update, 2:55 p.m. Thursday, July 8: Porter Arneill, a spokesperson for the city, said via email that the city can’t comment specifically on personnel matters, “it will, in the interest of transparency, disclose that this was a self-initiated investigation that was generated internally by the police department. The protected class was gender, and the investigation involved an employee who no longer works for the City.”

“The City takes seriously allegations of racial or other bias based policing and believes strongly in a fair and equitable police department,” Arneill said.


Many agencies’ reports for Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1 , 2020 – June 30, 2021) have not yet been uploaded to the AG’s website, but they are due by July 31 and they will appear at this link. Reports for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, district attorney’s office and Baldwin, Eudora and University of Kansas police departments were not yet online as of Friday evening.

None of the Douglas County agencies reported any racial or bias-based policing complaints for FY 2020.

Here are LPD’s reports to the AG from July 1, 2011, to present, in reverse chronological order. This year’s is the only sustained complaint mentioned among the 10 reports.

All-LPD-Bias-Based-Cmplts-to-AG


In other business, the CPRB will revisit a draft ordinance that has been in the works for months now.

City staff and the city attorney’s office have now returned to the board with memos, both of which answer some questions members have asked in previous meetings.

In their memo, staff recommend that the draft ordinance focus on two purposes: “to receive community member concerns and to review completed personnel investigations.”

The staff memo also says that consideration should be given to the privacy of people who file complaints about the police, as some might not want their complaints to be reviewed by the board — “There should be a mechanism available to persons filing a complaint that includes an ‘opt-in’ for disclosure of complaint details to the board.”

Here are both memos:

Staff-review-of-CPRB-Draft-Ordinance


The CPRB will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 8 in hybrid format, but board members will appear via Zoom. The meeting will be livestreamed on the city’s website and YouTube channel. The full agenda is available here.

Sign up to attend via Zoom and provide public comment during the meeting at this link. Written public comments may be emailed to bjwalthall@lawrenceks.org until noon the day of the meeting to be included in the agenda packet.

— Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached via email at mclark@lawrencekstimes.com or 785-422-6363.

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