Archive for Sunday, December 9, 2001

Police chief, three officers suspended

December 9, 2001

Baldwin City Police Chief Steve Butell and three officers have been suspended as a result of the Bennett Investigation, a probe began in July to review allegations leveled against the department, the Signal has learned.
City officials close to the investigation confirmed that Butell received a three-day suspension Friday. It is unknown when the suspension will be served or if Butell will appeal the suspension. The chief would not comment on the suspension.
"I don't know what you're talking about," said Butell, in his only comment concerning the action taken late Friday afternoon by City Administrator Larry Paine.
It is also unknown which three of the six officers on the force were suspended for a day.
The Bennett probe, conducted by special counsel Mark Bennett, a Topeka attorney, was launched in July after allegations of misconduct within the police department were revealed to city officials. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Highway Patrol also participated in the probe.
The majority of the allegations involved former officer G.H. Rhea, who resigned days after the investigation was started. The probe was broadened to take a look into policies and procedures of the Baldwin City Police Department.
The investigation was completed in September and it was initially announced by Paine that all criminal allegations were unfounded. However, that statement was amended several days later when it was learned that the Highway Patrol had not completed its portion of the investigation.
The KHP was to look into the allegation that a "Triple I" request -- commonly referred to as a background check -- was requested for personal reasons by Rhea. That allegation was found to be true, but no criminal charges were brought. However, the police department received a month suspension from use of the national crime computer and were required to take additional training as a result.
More information will be released as it becomes available.

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