Archive for Wednesday, August 15, 2001

No conclusion in police investigation

August 15, 2001

There won't be any answers this week regarding the ongoing investigation of the Baldwin City Police Department. And there might not be any next week, either.

"No, we don't have a firm date," said City Administrator Larry Paine. "Not at this point, anyway. I haven't talked to him (Special Counsel Robert Bennett, who is conducting the investigation).

"I have received a notice that says the last four interviews will be conducted Friday of this week," said Paine. "Then it will be Mr. Bennett's opportunity to put his summary together and tell us what his findings are."

The probe, which started in mid July as a result of allegations against former Baldwin Police Officer G.H. Rhea and was broadened to the policies and procedures of the entire department, was to have taken 30 days. That time frame is over, but there's a reason for the delay.

"He (Bennett) ended up taking a deposition trip in the middle of this that sidetracked the investigation," said Paine.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation and Kansas Highway Patrol investigators also participated in the probe. The allegations against Rhea have never been made public, but officials have said they involve alleged misconduct.

Rhea resigned days after the investigation was launched, citing the allegations caused "stress and pressure." He has denied all allegations. Rhea, 27, was a member of the police force for two years.

Paine has said from the beginning of the investigation that neither he or members of the city council are being informed about what the investigation is finding.

"That's it," he said. "To do anything different, I would be toast."

He also said there are no "preconceived notions" about what personnel changes might result from the probe.

"No sir," Paine said. "No. Nope, I don't."

He also said there haven't been discussions of possible personnel changes.

"I'm not going there," he said.

Mayor Ken Hayes had little to say about the investigation, too.

"It's just a hurry up and wait deal," said Hayes. "I can't say anything else about it."

Paine also continued to say the police department is functioning properly while the investigation is under way.

"I'd say we're still doing things police officers ought to do," he said.

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