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Complaint claims Overland Park police chief filed false report

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Posted at 7:56 PM, Mar 22, 2021

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A new complaint filed Monday morning claims Overland Park’s police chief knowingly filed a false report.

Sheila Albers sent that complaint against Chief Frank Donchez to the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (CPOST).

In 2018, responding to a welfare check on John Albers, Sheila’s 17-year-old son, then-Overland Park Officer Clayton Jenison fatally shot John Albers as the teen was backing out of the garage in the family minivan.

After an investigation, Jenison was not charged with a crime.

But as the I-Team first reported in June, the city paid Jenison $70,000 to resign.

Last week, following a Kansas City Star lawsuit, the city released a copy of that separation agreement.

"The severance agreement the city released on Friday to the public directly contradicts what they had been telling the public," Sheila Albers said.

She noted in that agreement that Donchez told CPOST Jenison left the department “as a voluntary resignation under ordinary circumstances and for personal reasons.”

RELATED: Overland Park paid former police officer who fatally shot teen to resign

However, the city has publicly stated “the city approached Jenison through his attorney to initiate a discussion, ultimately, the terms were mutually negotiated.”

"There was nothing voluntary about his resignation," Albers said. "He was encouraged to resign, in fact approached to resign."

For that reason, Albers filed a complaint with CPOST against Donchez in which she wrote that his "behavior is EGREGIOUS.”

She also wrote that it violates the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Act, which states that CPOST “may suspend, condition or revoke the certification of a police officer who has knowingly submitted false or misleading documents.”

"Kansas CPOST owes it to Overland Park and to the citizens here in Kansas to investigate this," Albers said.

A statement from an Overland Park spokesperson said, “the city is aware of a complaint,” and, “we will cooperate fully with any investigation into the matter.”

Last August, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach said there was a specific reason for the Jenison separation agreement.

"I think everybody agreed we didn't want him as a police officer anymore," Gerlach said in August.

The I-Team asked Gerlach in August if the agreement allowed Jenison to keep his peace officer’s license. Gerlach said he hadn’t seen the agreement.

So, the I-Team asked Gerlach if Jenison should work as a police officer in another community.

"Well, I would say that's up to CPOST," Gerlach said in August.

But Albers said CPOST must rely on the information police departments give that commission for officers leaving.

She said she believes the information Donchez gave CPOST about Jenison was false.

"That jeopardizes public safety and that jeopardizes the profession of policing," Albers said.

She’s not alone in that assessment.

The I-Team reached out to Frank LoMonte, director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida, and provided him with the relevant documents and information.

LoMonte, a long-time attorney and former journalist, said in a statement to 41 Action News that it "definitely does not appear" that Jenison left OPPD for personal reasons.

"It seems like the police department has belatedly admitted that they negotiated with his lawyer for his exit, and that his departure was a result of the city's interest in removing him," LoMonte said. "It wouldn't be accurate to say that his departure was solely for personal reasons, because if you leave a government job for personal reasons, you don't get a $70,000 farewell gift on your way out the door."

If the city thought Jenison was "really interested" in leaving due to personal reasons, it could not have given a $70,000 payout," according to LoMonte.

"A government agency can't give away taxpayer money for no reason, and if an employee submits a resignation for personal reasons, the employer can't just give them a going-away present of taxpayer money," LoMonte said. "So there had to be a bargain struck in which the city was receiving something in exchange for its money, and if the bargain was that Jenison would agree to resign and not to sue the city in exchange for $70,000, then that's what should have been on the report to the commission.”

CPOST Executive Director Gary Steed responded Wednesday to an I-Team request to find out if it had received the Albers complaint and if an investigation has been launched.

"KSCPOST investigations are confidential by Kansas Statute," Steed said. "I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation."