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Department Practices

In the days following the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which we unequivocally denounce, our department received numerous inquiries about our policies, training, equipment, and accountability. We appreciate the tenor of those individuals who have reached out to us as they seek to understand more about our department. A civil and constructive dialogue is something we welcome from the community we serve. We strive to never be content with the “status-quo”, but instead to always be seeking, learning, and adapting where needed. The information outlined here is meant to broadly address the most common questions that have been asked of us. Some of the topics could fill hundreds of pages, so this is not meant to be exhaustive. If after reading this overview you find yourself with additional questions, we welcome a conversation over the telephone or an in-person meeting at our station.

Training and professional standards

Hiring

We believe that staffing a healthy police agency starts with the hiring and selection process in order to weed out applicants who may be unsuitable for our department. Our hiring process includes an interview board, polygraph, background investigation, character references, patrol ride-along, and psychological inventory, among other steps. Any indications which raise concern about a candidates ability to do the job in anything but a legal and ethical way will disqualify that candidate from hiring consideration. Less than 1% of applicants are offered a position with our department.

Training

De-escalation: During the course of our duties we are regularly thrust into volatile situations involving persons who are experiencing a high level of stress, emotion, mental health crisis, or intoxication. We have taught and emphasized de-escalation techniques for many years, starting in the police academy and continuing with regular “in-house” refresher training throughout an officer’s career. We believe that appropriate communication by our officers, both verbal and non-verbal, is vital to de-escalating a tense situation. This includes verbal tone, volume, clarity, as well as physical distance and posture. It is our desire to resolve situations as peaceably as possible, without the use of force. Unfortunately, there are times where an individual’s actions necessitates the use of force to place them under arrest or to protect the safety of others.

Use of force: We recognize and respect the inherent value and dignity of every human life. Unfortunately, using force to effect an arrest or stop a threat from endangering the public is part of our profession. Investing police officers with the lawful authority to use force to protect the public welfare requires a careful balancing of all human interest. It is our mission to ensure that we always follow best practices in law enforcement and be accountable to ourselves and the community we serve. Our officers are expected to adhere to department policies and to intervene when witnessing another officer acting in a manner that is obviously out of policy and morally wrong. We train our officers to use the minimal force necessary, given the totality of the circumstances, to effect an arrest or protect the safety of others. When force is used and the situation is stable, officers are trained to switch to a caretaker mode to ascertain if the individual needs medical attention and is not in danger of injury.

Biased based policing: We understand that the unreasonable use of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity in taking enforcement action is illegal, unethical, and has no place in a healthy law enforcement agency. Every member of our department receives regular biased-based policing and implicit-bias awareness training. This training is facilitated by online courses and guest speakers. Groups that we have worked with include the Kansas African American Affairs Commission (KAAAC), the Johnson County chapter of the NAACP, and J.S. Ritter & Associates.

Outside instruction:
 In order to bring a well-rounded breadth of knowledge to our department, we recognize the value of learning from law enforcement trainers both inside and outside of our agency and geographical region. As such, we regularly host in-house seminars for our officers, put on by experts from around the country. We also send officers to outside seminars and conferences to gain knowledge and skills that can directly benefit our department and community. These opportunities allow us to see beyond our four walls and look globally at issues; providing up to date and forward thinking discussion on topics that shape our policies and procedures.

Mental health

Crisis Intervention Team: The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) program is a community partnership of law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families and other advocates. It is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than place them in the criminal justice system due to illness related behaviors. It also promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis. Basic CIT training for officers consists of 40 hours of classroom and scenario-based instruction. Over 50% of our officers and civilian personnel have completed CIT certification training.

Mental Health Co-responder Program: In partnership with the Johnson County Mental Health Center, our department is embedded with two civilian mental health co-responders. Co-responders are masters-level mental health clinicians that meet the Kansas statute requirements of Qualified Mental Health Professionals. The goal is to provide the right intervention at the right time in an effort to prevent unnecessary arrests, decrease trips to the emergency room and reduce repeat calls for service for our officers. The co-responder’s primary responsibility is to respond on scene with an officer when behavioral health is identified as a possible contributing factor. Additionally, co-responders conduct outreach and follow-up calls to individuals who had police contact as a result of a behavioral health crisis, with the intention of getting the individual the help they need to avoid future police contact.

One Mind Campaign Pledge: The Lenexa Police Department is recognized by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for successfully meeting, and even exceeding, the pledge requirements. The One Mind Campaign seeks to ensure successful interactions between police officers and persons affected by mental health illnesses. The agencies that demonstrate a serious commitment to implementing all four required strategies, listed below, in a timely fashion will become publicly recognized members of the One Mind Campaign.

• Establish a clearly defined and sustainable partnership with one or more community mental health organization(s)
• Develop and implement a model policy addressing police response to persons affected by mental illness
• Train and certify 100% of your agency’s sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers) in Mental Health First Aid or other equivalent mental health awareness program (JCRPA MH First Aid, Basic CIT, & ICAT De-Escalation in house training)
• Provide Crisis Intervention Team training to a minimum of 20 percent of your agency's sworn officers (and selected non-sworn staff, such as dispatchers)

Use of force investigation

We have a multi-step investigative review process for every use of force we’re involved in. The investigation begins with a review of the facts and circumstances by a Patrol Sergeant. This includes taking photos of the individual whom force was used on, as well as giving them the opportunity to make any statements about the matter. Any pertinent electronic evidence such as body camera and in-car camera footage is flagged for retention and saved into a case file. Next, our Training Unit performs an investigative review which includes how the force used aligns with the training for our department. Finally, a Division Commander reviews all the fact and circumstances regarding the use of force. Each use of force is investigated to ensure that the officers used proper communication, de-escalation and trained techniques, and were within the bounds of what is legal, ethical and within department policy.

Officer involved shootings: Officer involved shootings involving our officers will be investigated by the Johnson County Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team (JCOISIT). This team is comprised of investigators from other agencies outside our department. At the conclusion of the team’s investigation, the report is forwarded to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office for review to determine if the officer’s actions were legal.

Accountability

Body cameras: In 2009, our department was one of the first in the KC Metro area to purchase body cameras for our officers. Today, every one of our officers is issued their own body camera to be worn on duty. It is our policy that the body cameras are activated during traffic stops, calls for service, and other citizen contacts. Patrol officers do not have the capability to delete videos from their body cameras or from the retention system.

Dash cameras: Our patrol cars have been equipped with in-car/dash cameras for over 20 years. These cameras are automatically activated when the patrol cars emergency lights are turned on. These cameras capture both video and audio. In addition to dash cameras, all of our patrol cars also have cameras that face the back seat area where arrestees are placed. Patrol officers do not have the capability to delete videos from their in-car cameras or the retention system.

Random review of video:
Each supervisor is required to conduct random reviews of officer video. The video platform we utilize selects the videos on a random basis for the supervisor to review. The supervisor reviews the selected video to see if the officer handled the situation as trained, or if additional training, coaching, or counseling is necessary. This system also allows for oversight of the supervisor actions by the next level of command to ensure videos are being reviewed and what if any action was taken. Checks and balances are built into the program.

Citizen complaints:
We believe the image of our department depends on the personal integrity and discipline of all our employees. To a large degree, the public image of our Department is determined by the professional response to allegations of misconduct against our employees. We believe in competently and professionally investigating all allegations of misconduct by our employees and complaints about our response to community needs. We encourage citizens to bring forward legitimate grievances regarding misconduct by our employees. Citizens should expect that their complaints are received in a courteous manner. Formal written complaints are strongly encouraged. We will however also receive complaints in-person at our station located at 12500 W. 87th Street Parkway, Lenexa, KS 66215, or over the telephone by calling 913.477.7300. Complaints should be made as soon as practicable after the alleged incident has occurred. Investigation will occur upon receipt of the complaint, however failure to report a complaint in a timely manner may hinder the availability of evidence pertinent to the investigation. Complaints are investigated by a field supervisor, with review at the commander level, then the Deputy Chief and finally the Chief of Police. This affords many levels of accountability within our process. Additionally, complaints alleging biased policing can be made directly to the office of the Kansas Attorney General by completing their Complaint of Racial or Other Biased Based Policing form (PDF).

Community Advisory Board: The Board was established to advise and assist our department on issues of biased policing, particularly in the areas of policy development, community outreach, education and communications, as well as, recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce. This board is comprised of civilian participants reflecting the racial and ethnic populations of Lenexa.

Relationships: Our department enjoys a good working relationship with the Johnson County chapter of the NAACP, of which we are a member. This includes sponsorship and attendance of NAACP fundraisers, community events and regular conversations with NAACP members. We also partner with Johnson County Mental Health, and National Association for the Mentally Ill.

Professional organizations & Best practices in law enforcement

Many of our personnel are members of and/or serve as board members on professional organizations. The ability to have first-hand knowledge and participation in shaping leading edge policy and practices in law enforcement is immeasurable not only to our staff, but to our community.

Examples of this involvement can be seen in the following publications:
National Consensus Policy and Discussion Paper on Use of Force (PDF) 2017
Hiring for the 21st Century Law Enforcement Officer (PDF) 2017
Here are some professional organizations we are a part of:
• Kansas CPOST Commission
• International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
• National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives (NAWLEE)
• KCK Police Athletic League
• Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO)
• International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA)
• Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police
• Kansas Association of Hostage Negotiators (KAHN)
• National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA)
• Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy (FBINA)
• American Society of Evidenced Based Policing (ASEBP)
• COPS-KS Concerns of Police Survivor
CIT International
• National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO)
• Johnson County Family Justice Center Foundation
• Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault

Community engagement

We encourage members of our community to stay informed about our department, and take advantage of opportunities for engagement with our personnel. Programs include our Citizens Police Academy, Youth Police Academy, Use of Force seminar, and events such as ‘Coffee with Cops’. Check out our website at Lenexa.com/Police and follow us on social media for the latest updates.

If you’d like to further discuss this information, email lenexapdpio@lenexa.com and someone from our department will get back to you.