Kansas State Senator Tom Holland (D-Baldwin City) has introduced a bill that would allow a police officer accused of misconduct to view all of the evidence against him/her prior to being interviewed by investigators, reports the Wichita Eagle.
Holland says that he introduced this bill on behalf of a former police officer, and that the bill protects due process. However, colleagues on both sides of the aisle disagree. Senator David Haley (D-Kansas City) refers to the bill as a way to give police officers “superhero immunity status” and Senator Greg Smith (R-Overland Park), who is a former police officer, says the bill sounds like “union stuff” that would offer extra protections to police officers.
This is not the first bill that has been introduced by Kansas legislators to offer undue protection to police officers. Last year, a lawmaker sought to make it a felony to report an unfounded claim of police misconduct, in what some say was an attempt to deter people from filing complaints against the officers. That bill was shot down after being originally reported by Kansas Exposed and quickly making national news.
Nationwide, and in Wichita, Kansas, great efforts are being taken to strengthen laws that govern police misconduct, and to increase transparency in police departments, after several high profile police shootings. Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau (D-Wichita) and Representative Gail Finney (D-Wichita) have drafted bills that would require all Kansas police officers to wear body cameras while on duty.
Several police officers, including some in Wichita, wrote letters in opposition to the body camera bill, although the Wichita Police Department and the City of Wichita claim that Wichita police officers and their union support the cameras.