Lawrence Police Chief: Traffic citation-fix scheme for KU athletic tickets started in 2000

1 of 2 officers involved no longer employed

LAWRENCE, Kan. - The Chief of Police in Lawrence says a police officer began fixing traffic tickets for a former member of the University of Kansas athletic department in exchange for tickets to KU athletic events back in 2000.

In a news release issued Friday, Chief Tarik Khatib said the former KU employee, who 41 Action News earlier learned is one of six former university staffers serving time in prison for the broader ticket scandal that rocked the school in 2010, had a preexisting friendship with the police officer going as far back as the 1990s.

The former KU staffer has not been identified.

According to Khatib, the police officer received "free, discounted or otherwise special access to certain athletic events" from the former KU staffer over the course of several years, and at some point in the relationship, the officer was asked for assistance with traffic citations.

From 2000 to 2009, the officer assisted in the "fixing" – defined as as the voiding of an issued citation before it is transferred to Municipal Court, the request for dismissal from Municipal Court, or intervening before the citation is issued – of at least six citations, Khatib said. Those citations were issued in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009.

During that time, the officer asked a second Lawrence police officer for assistance in the fixing of the citations two to three times, the Chief said. The second officer may have been the beneficiary of the KU tickets through the first officer, according to Khatib.

The "citations were fixed by asking the officers that issued or were about to issue a citation to void or not issue it," Khatib said, adding the issuing officers did not knowingly receive anything in return.

An anonymous tip in May of 2011 brought the case to the police department's attention and the the case was forwarded to the United State's Attorney's Office. The FBI investigated and found no reason to pursue criminal charges, Khatib said.

The City of Lawrence resumed its own investigation after it was learned no criminal charges would be sought, Khatib said, with the intent of examining "whether any relevant City or Police Department policies, rules, or procedures were violated."

Both officers involved were suspended at some point in the investigation, Khatib said.

The investigation found that "this conduct violates the Department's gratuity and solicitation policies," Khatib said, and the officer referenced in the anonymous letter - the one with the longstanding relationship with the former KU staffer - is no longer an employee of the Lawrence Police Department.

The second officer remains suspended pending the conclusion of the investigation, Khatib said.

"The City Manager and I are committed to ensuring that members of the Lawrence Police Department perform their duties in accordance with the high ethical standards of this community," Khatib said. "The City Manager has directed that a full review of municipal citation dismissal procedures be undertaken to ensure greater transparency and accountability."

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