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Former Independence, Missouri, Interim Police Chief files discrimination suit against city

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 08:27:01-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man who served as interim police chief in Independence, Missouri, is suing the city, alleging age discrimination and a hostile work environment.

An attorney for Ken Jarnagin filed the civil suit on Nov. 11 in Jackson County Court.

KSHB 41 reached out to the city of Independence about the lawsuit.

"The City has received notice that ligation has been initiated; beyond that, it is the City's standard practice to not speak on pending litigation," Independence said in a statement.

Jarnagin, 54, served more than 30 years with the Independence Police Department.

He worked in investigations, served as a field training officer and defensive tactics instructor and led nearly every division within the department.

Jarnagin became the interim police chief on Oct. 5, 2021, following the retirement of Chief Brad Halsey.

Jarnagin got caught up in an overtime scandal that rocked the department in February 2022.

He was placed on paid administrative leave, but according to his lawsuit, he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The city sent him a proposed letter that announced his retirement while he was on leave, according to the lawsuit.

Jarnagin told the city he didn't plan to retire and wanted permission to be considered a candidate for the open police chief's job.

Adam Dustman, who also served as interim police chief, was chosen as the department's full-time chief.

Dustman is younger than Jarnagin.

"Plaintiff's age directly contributed to and caused Defendant's decision to harass, discriminate against and/or treat Plaintiff differently than Plaintiff's co-workers as alleged herein," the lawsuit states.

The suit also claims, "Defendants conduct towards or concerning Plaintiff represents a pattern and practice by Defendant of creating, fostering and/or condoning a hostile work environment."

Court records show the case is set for a case management conference on Feb. 28, 2023.