A message from Chief Jerry Harrison:
Another tragic death has hit the news and driven a wedge between police and the communities they serve across the nation. In the aftermath of this shocking loss, my concern is to comfort our community by sharing the measures we have in place to ensure Independence Police Officers conduct themselves honorably.
At IPD we have several measures in place designed to improve oversight and transparency. One is the Police Chief’s Advisory Committee (PCAC). The PCAC is made up of a cross section of community members in Independence. Their duties are to share complaints and concerns, assist with hiring and promotion interviews, and serve as the Bias-based Policing Committee. You can take your complaints to members, use the links to the Complaint and Commendation forms on our website, or get copies at our local library. Additionally, every employee at IPD is required to provide a complaint form upon request. We accept third-party and anonymous complaints.
Our Traffic Safety Committee allows citizens to guide traffic safety in Independence. We meet with local civic groups such as the Progressive Ministers Union and the Diversity Task Force. We work closely with our schools giving presentations to students at all levels and participate with Kids CREW, Seat Belts Are For Everyone (SAFE), SEK Academy, Active Shooter Community Response training (ALICE), Neighborhood Watch, Police Auxiliary (citizen volunteers), IPD’s Internship Program, and IHS Guitar Club.
We use video resources to gather evidence and ensure officers follow policy. Our patrol cars are equipped with in-car cameras and officers are equipped with body-cameras. We also record our phone lines and radio traffic.
We have strict policies related to use of force and we track and review each incident. We also have a policy that requires officers to intervene if they see another law enforcement agent using excessive force.
To prevent racial profiling, we review each officer’s traffic stops annually as well as the department as whole. We publish the data in our year end reports. To do this we monitor about 23 data points to determine if officers are using bias in who they stop, search, arrest, and/or cite.
The most important thing we do to ensure we are serving justly and equitably is to prevent hiring those who do not deserve to represent the best that Independence has to offer. All of our applicants, volunteers, and interns are subjected to a thorough background and interview process. We do a comprehensive employment background, review driving records, interview references, neighbors, former co-workers, family, and friends. We review applicants’ social media, credit history, and search for criminal history nationwide. We do physical and psychological testing. We also contact law enforcement agencies everywhere the applicant has lived for the last few years.
From the support we received when I first arrived It was evident to me early on that we enjoy a special connection to our citizens. I and the officers I serve with are committed to building on that historic reputation when things are going well, we do not wait until tragedy strikes. We will continue to serve our community in a manner befitting the honor of those who served before us. If you need to talk, call me at 620-332-1700 or email JerryH@IndependenceKs.gov.