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Kansas House Judiciary Committee to discuss bill on law enforcement transparency

Posted: 6:41 AM, Feb 18, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-18 08:01:50-05
DA: Officers justified in shooting death of teen

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Tuesday afternoon, state legislators in Topeka, Kansas, will hear from a woman who has not been able to see police records concerning her son’s death.

Sheila Albers of Overland Park will testify before the Kansas House Judiciary Committee in support of HB 2424.

The bill would require every law enforcement agency in Kansas have a written policy for officer-involved deaths, require an independent agency investigate officer-involved deaths and make documents and evidence from the investigation public record if prosecutors decide not to press charges on the officer involved.

In 2018, an Overland Park police officer shot and killed Albers’ 17-year-old son. The officer was told the teen was acting suicidal before he arrived. The Johnson County prosecutor did not file any criminal charges against the officer.

"This would impact lives across the state of Kansas. It would say, no matter where you live in the state of Kansas, you're going to be treated with consistency, fairness and transparency,” Albers said in advance of Tuesday’s hearing.

Representative David Benson filed HB 2424 after hearing Albers’ story.

Representative Chris Croft filed a similar bill. HB 2667 would require law enforcement agencies to have other agencies investigate officer-involved deaths, but doesn’t require agencies to release individual pieces of evidence to the public, just a summary.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony on both bills at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Topeka. The committee could move one or both on to the full House for a vote.