City turns down claims; officers to file lawsuits
The City of Baldwin City said no last week to claims against it brought by four police officers. It came as no surprise to their attorney, Dennis Hawver.
"That's fine with us," said Hawver. "We quite frankly weren't expecting anything else. Politics brings unreasonable responses."
The four officers Cpl. Bill Dempsey, Chuck Woolsoncroft, Chuck Hensley and Eric Garcia have claimed their rights to freedom of speech and due process were violated during last year's investigation into the Baldwin City Police Department and the subsequent disciplinary action taken as a result. Dempsey, Woolsoncroft and Garcia are seeking $300,000 apiece, while Hensley is seeking $100,000.
Regardless, City Administrator Larry Paine said the city's stance was to deny the claims.
"City Attorney Bob Bezek notified the officers' attorney that the claims are without merit and are denied," said Paine. "Bezek notified Hawver of the city's decision by letter last week."
As a result of the denials, Hawver said his clients will file their lawsuits in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. He said it maybe late September before the lawsuits are filed.
He also said the city is ill-advised to deny the claims.
"If they did their homework they would not want to go forward with this," Hawver said. "It's unfortunate and it's going to cost the citizens of Baldwin win or lose.
"My clients are only asking that their personnel files be corrected to take out the political matter," he said. "Until you let them know you mean business, they don't pay any attention to you."