Douglas County sheriff’s deputy was accused of misusing funds from police foundation

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‘Humans make mistakes,’ sheriff says

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has hired a deputy who resigned from his last law enforcement job following accusations of misusing funds from a police foundation. The sheriff says the deputy made a mistake and deserves a chance to show that’s not who he is.


Timothy Tinnin was employed at the Overland Park Police Department for almost 12 years before he, two other sergeants and an officer resigned under “questionable circumstances.” They had been placed on paid administrative leave for about a year and a half.

Tinnin was accused of mishandling money, but Douglas County Sheriff Jay Armbrister said Thursday that it was a mistake and “I could easily see myself or any other person in this same situation.” 

Jay Armbrister

From 2014 through around August or September of 2018, Tinnin served on the board of the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation, according to DGSO.1

Tinnin, Sgt. Brandon Faber, Sgt. Rachel Scattergood and Officer Brad Heater were investigated and found to have mishandled funds from the foundation, which exists to assist law enforcement officers and their families in financial distress following catastrophic injury or death.

A forensic audit found numerous issues with funds and accounting in the foundation. Many records and receipts were missing, and board members had made payments to themselves totaling more than $27,000. 

The audit found that Tinnin received $1,000 from the foundation in April 2018 and another $2,000 in November 2020, both documented as “officer assistance,” for $3,000 total. The three other officers and/or their family members received $6,000, $6,541 and $11,600, respectively, the audit found. 

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced in October that the four officers would not be charged with any crimes because his office felt they did not have sufficient evidence. In addition, the organization’s bylaws state that the bylaws may be amended by agreement of the board, and “clearly, the board informally approved this type of behavior of the foundation,” Howe said in a Kansas City Star video of a press conference. 

“There were monies being given to board members that was outside the parameters of the bylaws — but they agreed to it,” Howe said. He said he did not want to give in to public pressure and file charges “when ethically we feel like there’s no evidence to support that.”

Tinnin’s employment at OPPD ended Dec. 8, 2023. In official documents, he and his three colleagues were marked as resigning under “questionable circumstances.”2 The incident received a good deal of media coverage from Kansas City- and Johnson County-area news outlets, including the Star and the Johnson County Post.

Tinnin applied with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 12. “There were subsequent interviews and a background investigation before he was hired,” and Tinnin started at DGSO on Jan. 8, Armbrister said.

Armbrister said the foundation’s board regularly received requests from officers who found themselves in financial stress, and board members would vote on whether payment was warranted. 

Regarding the $1,000 foundation payment to Tinnin in April 2018: “Tim’s wife, who is a firefighter, was placed off work by her physician for the remainder of her pregnancy, and the agency she worked for allowed her the time off but reduced her pay by 26 hours per paycheck for the time period,” Armbrister said. “Tim made a request for assistance with bills during this time.”

Tinnin had made a request for a non-specific amount and recused himself from the vote; the other board members approved the request and chose the amount to give him, Armbrister said. 

“It was only learned much later that the bylaws prohibited board members from receiving these funds, and if we are looking for a place to say someone made a mistake, it is here,” Armbrister said. 

At the time of the November 2020 payment of $2,000, Tinnin was no longer on the foundation’s board — so that payment was in full compliance with the bylaws, Armbrister said. 

“This was for an injury his wife suffered as a firefighter and was again off work for a significant period of time,” Armbrister said. 

Armbrister said that “in no way was it ever shown that it was Tim’s intent to receive money from the foundation while knowing that he was prohibited. He had been a part of the approval process for others and believed the actions were appropriate when he did so. It simply turned out he was wrong, but it was unintentional.” 

Armbrister said that humans make mistakes, and “This is an example where a good human did what they thought was right in order to help his family.” 

“It turned out Tim was wrong in his understanding of the process and bylaws, and he fully accepts that,” Armbrister continued. “However, what I do know is that I could easily see myself or any other person in this same situation. But after thoroughly reviewing all the information and speaking with people with intimate knowledge of the investigation, we still to this day believe Tim deserves an opportunity to show this is not who he is. Frankly, he has done exactly that every day since coming to work with us.” 

The audit also shows that most of the payments to the other three board members — 12 of 17 — were made in late 2018 or beyond, when Tinnin was no longer on the board, according to DGSO.

Armbrister said DGSO itself has no fund or union where funds are accepted or distributed, and no deputies have access to budget funds “except through proper channels as set out by policy and practice for the county, which includes checkpoints and controls.” 

Some allegations and findings of misconduct can be career-ending for law enforcement officers, in part because prosecutors would have to disclose that information to defense attorneys in order to ensure defendants receive a fair trial. 

The Douglas County district attorney’s office did not directly answer a question Thursday regarding whether there are any current DGSO employees whose cases the office won’t charge.3 However, the sheriff’s office said that “Based on our review of the allegations as part of the background investigation, there was no finding of misconduct that would reach the level of Giglio,” referring to Brady/Giglio disclosures about officer conduct

Asked if Tinnin would like to speak with a reporter for this article, Armbrister said Tinnin was “embarrassed by all of this because he knows his heart was in the right place while also knowing he never intended to violate the bylaws when he received that assistance check. He does not wish to discuss it any further. He has authorized us to speak on his behalf.” 

Armbrister said his office only investigated Tinnin and his circumstances — not any of the other three officers who were involved.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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  1. In the organization’s federal tax filings that are publicly available from 2016 forward, Tinnin was listed as secretary of the board of directors in 2016 and 2017.
  2. Kansas law enforcement officers’ employment statuses are tracked by the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training. When an officer leaves a job or is terminated, the agency must report to CPOST via a form that includes options of voluntary resignation, resignation under questionable circumstances or termination. Meg Ralph, a spokesperson for the City of Overland Park, said the city reported to CPOST that all four officers resigned under questionable circumstances, described on the form this way: “Officer resigned or retired while being investigated or investigative, disciplinary, or legal action was being contemplated; Officer was offered the opportunity to resign or retire to avoid potential disciplinary or adverse employment or legal action.”
  3. Cheryl Cadue, a spokesperson for the DA’s office, said via email Thursday that “We have a robust Brady-Giglio Policy in place. However, the decision to disclose information to the District Attorney’s Office rests with the respective law enforcement agencies. Our office isn’t involved in the hiring process for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.”
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