INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Word of possible misuse of taxpayer dollars by an Independence Police Department officer comes days before voters head to the polls for the mayoral primary election.
While candidates weren't directly asked about it a forum at the Fairmount Community Center Thursday evening, it did become political ammo.
"I'm waiting to hear more information and put some steps into action so we can find out what is happening," Independence Mayor Eileen Weir told KSHB 41 News.
The city manager said an IPD officer allegedly clocked in 2,800 hours of overtime not for police work, but to paint and do carpentry at the city jail, costing taxpayers more than $160,000.
"Well, I asked that question myself, I don't know what our policy is regarding that," Weir said when asked if a police officer should be moonlighting as a painter and carpenter. "I know that our officers are extremely stressed to be able to perform their duties to protect the city."
Weir, who ran unopposed last time, now faces five other challengers as she runs for a third term.
Business owner Colleen Huff is one of them.
"The city manager should have seen what was going on within the budget and especially for one particular officer making that much money," Huff said. "Of course it should have been caught."
Most of the candidates are running on platforms of reform and increased transparency.
"We need an internal investigation of what's going on in the city of Independence," Kenneth Love, one of the mayoral candidates said.
"It should have been caught within two weeks to four weeks, not 365 days later," Holmes Osborne, another candidate said.
"I’m currently running on ethics, and I want to make sure that we clean up the city from a political standpoint," Rory Rowland, a Missouri House Representative running for mayor said.
During Thursday’s mayoral forum at the Fairmount Community Center hosted by the Independence Chamber of Commerce, the overtime investigation wasn't front and center but it sure was mentioned.
Brice Stewart is the only candidate who didn’t opine on the overtime fiasco, pointing out that it’s an ongoing investigation.
"I’m certainly focused on cooperating with the process of seeing how we get to the bottom of this and taking necessary actions," Weir said.
Independence has hired an outside firm to investigate the overtime allegations.
In the meantime, all work has stopped at the jail.