Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2001

Hurry up, wait’ for police probe

July 25, 2001

As the investigation continues into the Baldwin City Police Department and former officer G.H. Rhea, city officials continue to wait quietly and hope for quick resolution.

Special counsel Robert Bennett and investigators from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation and the Kansas Highway Patrol have been interviewing members of the police force and others for the past two weeks. They are looking from top to bottom in the department as far as procedures and policies, as well as a general review.

A wide array of allegations have been brought specifically against Rhea and they have opened the door as far as how policies and procedures are carried out in the department, according to officials. As of yet, the allegations have not been made public, but include alleged misconduct both in and out of uniform. Some city officials have said they intend to release what details they can when the investigation is completed.

Bottom line is, the review is necessary and needs to be completed quickly, they say.

"The investigation is ongoing," said Mayor Ken Hayes. "I'm anxious to get this resolved so we can take steps to move forward. The police department is functioning correctly and the level of protection has not been degraded as a result of this.

"Our goal is to get quick resolution to this, so we can put it behind us," said Hayes.

City Administrator Larry Paine said he knows the investigation is underway, but that's about it. Paine, Hayes and city council members will not be apprised of what's found until the probe is completed and recommendations are made. That is being done to not cloud the issues with early findings.

"The only thing I need to know to communicate to the council is that folks are doing the investigation," said Paine. "It is happening. Yes, I'm looking at the full 30 days (for the investigation) and I don't know anything about any part of it being wrapped up sooner.

"All three (counsel, KBI and KHP) are at it," he said. "I don't think Bennett has had any interviews with any Baldwin officials. I do know he's got the organizational stuff in place so they don't tread on each others flag."

Meanwhile, it's "hurry up and wait."

"Yeah, that's right," Paine said. "That's the toughest part. We won't know what will happen until the investigation is complete and recommendations are made."

Like Hayes, Paine is also confident in the police force's ability to function during the investigation.

"The thing I'm pleased about is that the whole police department is acting professionally," he said.

In an unrelated item, Rhea made an appearance in Douglas County District Court Thursday involving a Driving-Under-the-Influence charge he incurred after a July 4 one-vehicle accident on County Road 400 near the Gun Club. Rhea requested a jury trial.

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