OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Public tax records reveal the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation received more than $1million in contributions and grants from 2016 to 2019.
On Tuesday, the KSHB 41 I-Team revealed four police officers with the Overland Park Police Department are on paid administrative leave as the Johnson County District Attorney's office conducts a financial audit of the foundation.
The KSHB I-Team also learned the officers on leave once served as directors of the foundation, which is tied to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 21.
The most recent public tax record available for the foundation is from 2019. It shows the charity collected $353,454 and spent $248,435.
It's not immediately known what time period is under investigation. It's also not known what the money in question was spent on or how much.
The purpose of the charity foundation is to raise money for families of fallen officers, injured officers, education and community outreach.
According to the foundation's website, which as of Tuesday was offline, the charity also provides scholarships, equipment, and training to officer members.
An audit of the foundation
Dianna Johnson, president of the OP Fraternal Order of Police, said the union approached the foundation in January and March of last year with questions about distributions and spending.
It wasn't until a year later, when new directors took over the foundation, that the audit was ordered.
The findings of the audit were recently discussed privately with members of the police union.
The president of the FOP sent an email to all union members on May 7, that detail the agenda for the meeting.
The email, which was later sent to the I-Team, laid out the rules:
1. Current members only. No exceptions.
2. This is an opportunity to learn about the results of the Overland Park Police Officers Foundation audit. That is the only topic for the meeting.
3. There will not be any discussion, voting, speculation, conversation, or debate on this topic during the meeting.
4. There will not be any pictures or recordings allowed during the meeting, other than the official recording by the lodge.
Foundation receives failing grade from watchdog group
Charity Navigator, is a nonprofit watchdog website, that in part, rates charities based on financial health, accountability and transparency.
Overland Park Police Officers Foundation has a score of 45 out of 100, which is a failing grade. The score is based off financial health and accountability tied to tax records from 2019.
Charity Navigator notes the score might be different based on more current years that are not yet available due to a backlog of IRS filings.
FOP suspends foundation
The I-Team first began looking into the questionable spending on Monday.
Just hours after posing questions to OPPD and the police union, the union sent an email to its members stating it suspended the foundation from conducting any new business.
The email, sent to the I-Team, writes, "We have decided at this time to suspend any new business involving the Foundation, which means the FOP Lodge will be the source for any events, charitable giving, etc, for the time being. We have prior commitments with Foundation funds, such as the lodge rent, which we will continue to fulfill. But, from this point we will not be dispersing funds from the Foundation account for anything new. Due to potential legal issues related to the actions of the previous Foundation Board, we feel it is prudent and responsible to halt any new business until all legal matters have been resolved."
Steve Howe, Johnson County District Attorney, confirms he's investigating the matter but declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
Johnson, president of the FOP also declined to speak on the matter, citing the investigation.
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