Black Kansas City cop demoted, revoked IDs, escorted out of building for allegedly reporting misconduct by co-worker

A Kansas City, Missouri, detective claims he was fined for reporting misconduct by another police officer.

Arthur Willingham, 52, was a member of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Kansas City Interdiction Task Force for 16 years until he spoke out after another detective violated a person’s rights.

According to Willingham’s lawsuit, filed in Jackson County Circuit Court, the other detective who conducted an illegal search was not punished, but he was demoted, stripped of his Drug Enforcement Agency credentials, department laptop and vehicle, and escorted out of the building .

“The experience was humiliating and embarrassing, and I felt like a criminal,” Willingham said.

Willingham, who is black, believes the demotion was in retaliation for reporting the unethical behavior and some pattern of racial discrimination to the Kansas City Police Department. He filed the civil suit against the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, a body that oversees the department.

The Black Detective said he and another detective were part of a federal task force scanning a Greyhound terminal last October when a K-9 led them to two suitcases in the bus’s luggage compartment. Police searched the two suitcases with the owner’s permission and found no narcotics. However, Willingham said that as they put the luggage back, he saw the other detective “tampering with a separate holdall to feel its contents.”

“After observing the illegal search, the plaintiff questioned his colleague about the illegal search, to which he replied that what the plaintiff observed was ‘not what he normally does,'” reads the complaint. “Per KCPD policy, the plaintiff immediately informed his sergeant and prepared a memorandum describing the illegal conduct he witnessed.”

Willingham claims this isn’t the first time someone has complained about this particular detective. He was told that the detective had received “training” and in this case had not been disciplined.

As part of the task force, Willingham worked with the DEA and handled federal cases. In January, he filed a case with the US Attorney’s Office warning the head of the drug squad about “critical information he should be aware of about one of the detectives.” Willingham was required by law to include detectable evidence with the file.

Willingham said he found out about two weeks later that federal prosecutors had dismissed the case. His department manager reportedly called his line manager that day. Four days later, he was transferred to the Patrol Bureau’s investigative office while they opened an investigation into his conduct.

Willingham’s managers accused him of “conduct that could compromise integrity and thus undermine public confidence” and a violation of the public disclosure policy.

Prior to his transfer, Willingham worked for the department for more than two decades. During his tenure, he received several awards and honors.

A Kansas City Police Department official explained that the agency “generally does not discuss the details of pending civil cases to ensure fairness to all parties involved and other department members who may be involved in such personnel matters.”

The department said on August 12 that he is currently a detective in the Investigative Bureau.

“We want to reassure the public that the KCPD is committed to ensuring a fair and equitable workplace without harassment or discrimination,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Also in terms of investigative requirements and policies. We are very familiar with the requirements of the 4th Amendment and have multiple layers of oversight accountability and oversight within our department and as part of the investigative partnership with our federal partners.”

The Fourth Amendment protects Americans from illegal search and seizure.

In 2009, the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into why the Kansas City Police Department had a low number of black officers. The results were not released, reports the Kansas City Star. However, a July investigative report by the local newspaper shows that the number of black police officers in the department has since declined. In the past 15 years, 18 black officers have allegedly walked out on charges of racial abuse and have been referred to as “boy” and the N-word.

About 11 percent of the force is black, while blacks make up 29 percent of the city’s population. Black officers received 18 percent of the disciplinary sanctions in the department, the report shows. Black Kansas City cop demoted, revoked IDs, escorted out of building for allegedly reporting misconduct by co-worker

James Brien

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