The City of Overland Park has spent nearly $250,000 on the salaries of four officers who were placed on paid administrative leave more than nine months ago.
The sergeant. Timothy Tinnin, Sgt. Rachel Scattergood, Sgt. Brandon Faber and Officer Bradley Heater were discharged on May 6, according to records from the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training, the agency responsible for issuing and revoking police certifications.
The four have been on leave as the Johnson County District Attorney’s office investigates criminal charges involving a police non-profit organization of which three of them served as directors.
The investigation stems from the findings of an Overland Park Police Officers Foundation audit that was reported to members of the Fraternal Order of Police, union president Dianna Johnson said in a statement in May. On Thursday, you said all new business with the foundation remains on hold.
Scattergood and Faber’s names appear in recent years of tax filings for both the foundation and FOP. Tinnin’s name is listed in the foundation’s tax records. Heater’s name appears on tax filings for FOP.
The four officers earn between $73,831 and $84,738, according to Overland Park city records.
Overland Park spokeswoman Meg Ralph said the city has no control over the length of the investigation. But the city may place employees on paid leave at the discretion of the department or human resources director, according to city policy.
“Paid administrative leave is not a form of discipline; disciplinary action, if any, would occur upon conclusion of the criminal or internal investigation,” Ralph added.
Lauren Bonds, executive director of the National Police Accountability Project, said it was common for taxpayers to subsidize paid leave when officers are under investigation for misconduct at work. But she said this case was different because the allegations arose from their work with the foundation.
“Maybe you can understand the argument that the public should pay for officers who are under investigation in the course of carrying out their work for the city,” Bonds said. “This argument is more difficult to make when the investigation involves private actions that were not in support of the police department’s primary mission. Taxpayers are right to worry about their dollars being used here.”
The Star reached out to the six council members who serve on Overland Park’s public safety committee. Councilor Faris Farassati said he had not been informed of the state of the investigation and therefore could not comment.
Councilor Melissa Cheatham forwarded the request for comment to City Manager Lori Luther, writing, “Please advise.” Luther responded by emailing governing body and Police Chief Frank Donchez directing media questions to her and Ralph, according to emails obtained through an open records request.
Melody Webb, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, said Wednesday she was unable to comment. A message left at a phone number listed on the tax forms for the foundation has not been returned.