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Emails: Independence mayor refers to costly jail remodel as 'temporary fix,' questions work

July 19 Memo Screen Grab.jpg
Posted at 4:35 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-22 08:52:35-05

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Newly obtained emails between Independence Mayor Eileen Weir, City Manager Zach Walker and former Police Chief Brad Halsey provide insight into the remodel of the city's detention center, which has sparked an investigation into at least one police officer who logged thousands of overtime hours to complete the work.

The emails include a memorandum created by a police major, who details the funding for some of the work, lists work completed and/or to be completed at the center.

READ: July 8, 2021 memo

At the top of the memorandum is a section that writes, "Current Remodel Project," which the police major states is being funded through detainee house savings.

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A portion of a July 8, 2021, memo from the Independence Police Department obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team.

Nowhere in the memorandum does it state members of the police department would be conducting the work and logging overtime hours.

The main police officer at the center of the investigation logged 2,800 hours of overtime and took home more than an extra $160,000 on top of his regular pay.

In an email dated July 15, 2021, Mayor Weir thanks Halsey, now-current chief Ken Jarnagin and the major who wrote up the memo.

She follows up her email with several questions and suggests the remodel does little to remedy some of the major concerns at the jail.

Weir writes:
"Thank you for the detailed update. My question is how is the remodeling impacting our ability to detain people? Are we losing secure space during this period of time and if so how are we accommodating the loss of capacity? I would like to understand what the best long-term options are since remodeling the current facility is a temporary fix, similar to the remodels we did at dispatch before constructing the communications center. Remodeling detention does not solve some of the issues that are of greatest concern such as access via the back stairway and limited space."

A separate memorandum addressing Weir's questions was provided by the major who lays out different phases of the project and tells the mayor the upgrades are justified.

READ: July 19, 2021 memo

"Ultimately, this first and only noteworthy remodel after approximately 50 years will provide a significantly safer and more efficient environment for employees and detainees with minimal disruption to daily operations. All other improvements will require a new facility or major infrastructure changes to either Noland Road, Truman Road, police vehicle parking lot and/ or current police building."

The memorandum includes photos of the jail before the remodel.

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Independence Police Department Detention Unit remodel photos obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team.
Detention upgrade memo1 7-2021-7 copyROTATED.jpg
Independence Police Department Detention Unit remodel photos obtained by the KSHB 41 I-Team.

When reached by phone, Mayor Weir said she's long had safety concerns regarding the jail and questioned if the city needed a new facility altogether.

Weir said she questioned the remodeling process because she was concerned the jail would not be functional longterm.

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