Wichita, Kansas (TFC) – Wichita Police maintains a secret file system the offers a glimpse into corruption and privilege prompting an investigation by the City Attorney.
Lately, it seems that the Criminal Justice System in Wichita is just a fumbling mess. Recently, police agencies, the Sedgwick County District Attorney and even the Court have come under the gun due to behavior that frankly, is just not Constitutional. As troubling as that may sound it is even worse when one considers that the practices and policies of the Wichita Police that have recently been exposed are far too common throughout the country. This writer finds it interesting that when a police agency is caught behaving like the criminals they chase, the public does not demand immediate accountability, nor does it keep the pressure on until it is both stopped and those people breaking the law are held accountable. After all this behavior directly impacts your own community, it is only a matter of time until it impacts you.
Earlier this month Kansas Criminal Defense Attorney Sarah Swain informed me that something troubling was going on with the Wichita Police that she was looking into. Swain has been involved with some rather epic battles with the Wichita Police and the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. During most of these cases, illegal or at the least questionable behavior of the Wichita Police is exposed. So upon her mentioning this to me I began to research the department.
Swain sent a Kansas Open Records Act request to the Wichita City Clerk. Identifying the source of her information request as a “Records Supervisor” at the Wichita Police Swain stated,
The substance of this phone call addressed obtaining information regarding the ‘Confidential File’ contained within the Wichita Police Department case management system. Specifically, this call was an attempt to acquire documentation relating to policies and procedures surrounding this file.
Swain pointed out that she knew the “Confidential File” existed and that this file contained case information that would normally be available to the public. She also observed that certain items that are placed into the confidential files were meant to be hidden from the public’s view or access.
The paradox here was that at the same time the Wichita Police had entered into a public campaign or promoting transparency. In October of 2014, for example, local news KAKE, an ABC affiliate, broadcast a Wichita Police press conference. Lt James Espinoza stated that the department was moving in a new direction and that the public can expect to see more transparency in the future.
The transparency “campaign” would be touted for months. Wichita lost it previous Chief of Police due to, among other things, being on the department dishonesty list after he filed a false report. The department needed a better image. In February 2015, a requested organizational assessment was done by the Hugo Wall School at Wichita State University. Throughout this lengthy report, an extensive list of recommendations was offered to the department to help with accountability, efficiency, public perception, community interaction and behavior.
So the Wichita Police was doing the right thing. Stepping up and acknowledging areas that needed improvement and promising transparency. Yet, while the department spoke about transparency it was also compiling this confidential file. Files that Swain found out about and helped put in front of the public eye. Files that contain information about its own all the way to the top of the department. Here is an example of an item contained within these files:
On June 16, 2005, Jayna Baslee made a Wichita police case number for Domestic Violence with evidence reference WPD case # 05C045100. The summary of that report reads she was pushed, punched and threatened to be killed during an argument in her residence. The summary further states there were photos taken of Baslee’s injuries. All of these charges read (within the PFA and WPD Paperwork) to be felony charges, with evidence (ripped shirt, torn necklace, repeated phone harassment on cellular and home phones, photos of injuries, and medical attention sought).
On June 17, 2005, Jayna Baslee filled out a petition for protective orders as the plaintiff. She additionally filled out a Protection from Abuse/ Protection from Stalking AFFIDAVIT.Ms. Baslee identified the defendant as “Nelson Mosley.”
Nelson Mosley at the time of these orders was a Captain of the Wichita Police Department. He is now the current Chief of Police of the Wichita Police Department.
This affidavit was sworn and notarized by “Louise Cody” as the “Deputy Clerk of the Court.” There is a visible seal near Louise Cody’s signature.
What is of note here is, there is no record that has been found that Deputy Clerk Louise Cody ever served Mosley with the PFA that was executed by Baslee just six days prior. Nor is there any record of contact being made by a Deputy Sheriff to serve Mosley. As noted by Swain,
This was a critical opportunity for Louise Cody to provide a referral to the Wichita Police Department concerning Baslee’s PFA, a chance to intervene using early intervention/ prevention strategies, proper
documentation, and sharing the information properly to sheriffs office personnel for a personal service of Mosley.
In July of 2015, Swain spoke with Sgt. Oscar Thomasson of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office. According to Swain Thomasson advised her there was “no record” of any deputies that had attempted personal service or a documented service of any person listed above. Thomasson further elaborated that upon receipt of these types of protection orders from Family Court Services, his deputies immediately enter them into a computer to assign deputies to serve the defendants. Thomasson, a 36 year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, told Swain that he had no memory of the above orders.
Considering that these Complaints and Affidavits were in fact filed as stated above, why didn’t any person from the Sedgwick County Family Court Services or the Sheriff’s Office for that matter properly report and execute the PFA and start a felony investigation? Was it because it was an Officer Involved Domestic Violence involving a command staff member of the Wichita Police Department?
In July of 2015, a phone conversation was had with the Wichita Police Records Supervisor Jana Best. During this conversation the following was stated by Supervisor Best:
Jana: All we have to have is somebody from command say that that case needs to be put in confidential, and that’s where it goes. It is Records that does it.
Private Investigator: OK. What command? Is it Deputy Chief and higher? I mean, who.
Jana: No, a Captain can tell you. My Captain, the Records Captain can say, “I want this case put in confidential.” Usually, if we see something, like the Records people see something, they’re entering something, a DV that’s involving somebody that’s on the department, or whatever, they’ll bring it to a supervisor’s attention and say, “Do you want this put in confidential?” Then we go to the Captain, we ask the Captain if it needs to be put in confidential, and he’ll just make the determination. If there’s something that misses, I mean like, it’s a new employee that doesn’t recognize it’s another fellow employee, and we miss it. Then sometime later some sergeant or lieutenant comes and says, you know, “This case is viewable by everybody and we need to lock this down.” Then the Captain will tell us to do that. But I don’t think there’s anything, like in a policy that says…
Private investigator: Right. That’s what I was wondering.
Jana: …it’s just kind of a given up here.
Naturally Records Supervisor Best would certainly know what any procedure would be. What is most interesting here is that there is no written policy governing what she is speaking about.
Swain’s investigation prompted the following report to be done by local CBS affiliate KWCH news to do the following report:
As the reporter Lauren Seabrook states in her opening:
We have found cases that no one actually knew about including one that involves the acting Wichita Police Chief”
Paramount to the information is the designation of “KAS”. Which stands for Known Adult Suspect. Meanwhile, Mosley was specifically named as shown above. Yet his name was hidden from the police report.
Bob Layton, the Wichita City Manager, admitted on camera that he has known about the confidential files and also that he knew of the complaint filed against the present Police Chief. Further, Layton said when he vetted Mosley for his present position he “knows the incident from his (Mosley’s) perspective”. An amazing statement considering that there was and is a report in existence with picture and information accusing Mosley of felony behavior.
Seabrook also reports of a statement from Mosley’s attorney saying that this type of disagreement between spouses is a “private matter”. A dubious statement indeed considering how many domestic violence arrests are reported daily in this country.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office has stated that is knows nothing about this case or investigation and does not have in its possession any paperwork at all.
There is more than just secrecy going on here. It is one thing to hide information from the public or even adjacent law enforcement agencies. It is quite another to not prosecute the alleged felony behavior of police officers. Mosley’s case was buried. A felony assault domestic violence case. No investigation, no public information and no referral to the District Attorney’s office. The fact that Mosley’s name was kept off of the incident report from the start shows the duplicity of the entire department. The officers that responded to the scene, the officer that wrote and signed the incident report, the employees of the department, the supervisors and the personnel in the courthouse; every single one of them was required to take an oath of office. We are living in a country right now where we are seeing so many credible allegations of police misconduct and law-breaking with no accountability or prosecution resulting in these instances. Yet anyone else, particularly those who are poorer and minority, are being arrested and prosecuted to the extreme including instances that are barely criminal allegations, let alone viable cases. Possession of Cannabis comes to mind. A recent study showed that a person is arrested in this country every hour of every day for possession of cannabis. Considering some of the acquiescence of the local Public Defender’s Office to this type behavior, many people are being incarcerated that should not be.
But if you are a police officer who is accused of beating someone, with the beat up person standing right in front of you, there is not even an investigation pursued against this person. The law and the Constitution certainly do not support that kind of “secrecy” or allowance.
Something else is also clear. Sarah Swain and others like her continue to expose corrupt government behavior in the hope of making our society a better place. Let’s not let those efforts by for nothing.