WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Three employees are no longer working for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office after a months-long internal investigation.
Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Brian White said the investigation uncovered mishandling of firearms, lying, racial comments, and a false call.
It began with allegations that two employees were mishandling firearms. One of those deputies, a Hispanic male, then made a report of racist comments by his coworkers.
These reports prompted the department to conduct a full-scale investigation.
From February to July this year, 32 employees were interviewed, some multiple times, resulting in the termination of two deputies, the suspension of a supervisor, and another resignation from one employee who was set to be terminated.
“It’s important to dig into it and find the truth, and sometimes that takes a little bit of time,” said White.
White says the investigation found the two male deputies mishandled firearms.
“They were playing around pointing the gun at each other,” in the parking lot, said White.
Both lied about it during the investigation and were terminated, according to White.
“Those employees did not divulge a truthful statement to us and were not forthcoming about the frequency at which it occurred. It occurred multiple times,” said White.
The investigation also led to a supervisor being suspended for making inappropriate comments. It also found a female deputy made a false call. She was set to be terminated but resigned after a meeting on the allegations.
It leaves the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office down three commissioned deputies. The office is only about five positions short, with 18 training in the academy.
White said the larger staffing shortage is for detention deputies, with about 70 open positions.
“It impacts the organization as a whole, our efficiency, and our effectiveness,” said White.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett declined an interview but provided a statement:
The final assessment from the Sheriff’s Office showed there were several witnesses to the deputy’s mishandling of their firearms, which contradicted the deputy’s denial. The finding that the deputies departed from the truth was the policy violation. I then reviewed the situation and the findings and determined that I would have to notify defense counsel of this formal finding because a defense attorney could attempt to impeach the deputies concerning their truthfulness.
I then instructed my staff to activate the Brady/Giglio attribute in our records management system so that the names of the deputies would be flagged and notice would go out to defense counsel in any case which the deputies are endorsed witnesses.Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett
Brady/Giglio refers to two court cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The rulings prompted policies that require prosecutors to disclose information to the defense that could affect the credibility of the testifying law enforcement officer.
“There are severe consequences for integrity issues, lying, racist comments, discriminatory behavior absolutely won’t be tolerated,” said White.
The sheriff’s office said all employees were required to re-take diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and supervisors had additional sexual harassment training due to the investigation.
Both of the men involved in mishandling the firearms filed an appeal for their terminations.
The sheriff’s office said last week that one had a hearing on the appeal but failed to attend.
The other deputy’s appeal has not been up for a hearing yet.