Mayor calls for release of Bennett report
In the latest round of action involving disciplinary moves at the Baldwin City Police Department, the entire force has again appealed the discipline as a group and Mayor Ken Hayes has called for the release of the Bennett Report as a result.
Four officers, including Police Chief Steve Butell, were given suspensions Dec. 7 and two others were given oral reprimands. The entire force has now appealed the action twice. The disciplinary action was the result of findings from the Bennett Report, which summarized a three-month investigation into the department that was launched in July.
Hayes wasn't completely surprised that the officers again appealed, but thinks since they haven't done it individually that they must feel it's all right to release the report.
"Considering the results of the Bennett Report that the officers have knowledge of, I feel the officers should accept the punishment and move on," said Hayes. "But since they have appealed, I feel like the Bennett Report should be released so the citizens of Baldwin City can see what they were up to.
"Since they are appealing, they must feel like there is nothing in the report that would be embarrassing to them or incriminate themselves with," he said.
The police force has stated in a release it has "concerns over the manner in which the disciplinary actions are being handled." The chief and the officers are continuing to stand as one against the action and will see what results from their latest appeal, said Bill Dempsey, one of the officers.
"It depends on what will happen next to see what we have to say," said Dempsey.
City Administrator Larry Paine isn't sure what that will be. He was also surprised that the officers appealed as a group again.
"Yes, sir, I'm surprised," said Paine. "Partly from the standpoint that there should be individual responses some say yes, some say no. Instead I'm getting a group yes.
"Wednesday (today) my mayor, my city attorney and I will get together and try to figure out what to do," he said.
Hayes was also displeased with the officers statement last week that they have been "prohibited from speaking."
"As far as a gag order on the police department as a whole, we have categorically tried to get the department to be more open with the public and the press," said Hayes. "They have steadfastly refused to do that."
Additional comments from Hayes can be found in the Signal's Web Site's SpeakOut section. The address is www.baldwincity.com.