Chief of Police Will Not Answer Questions About Hiring Practices

I have previously written about how easy it is for bad cops to find  new jobs even after they have been fired for misconduct.  One of the cases I mentioned involved an officer in my hometown of Kansas City that was fired for refusing a woman medical attention during an arrest even though she stated that she was bleeding and pregnant.  The woman miscarried the next morning.  The officer, Kevin Schnell was fired, but was then hired by the Belton Police Department which is just outside of Kansas City.  I was very interested in finding out why a police department would hire such a liability, so I emailed the Chief of the Belton Police.

This is the email I sent.

It has recently come to my attention that Officer Kevin Schnell of your police department is the same Officer Kevin Schnell that was fired from the Kansas City Police Department for denying a bleeding pregnant women medical care during a arrest.  That woman eventually miscarried her baby and Kansas City paid out $750,000 to settle the lawsuit  I have some questions regarding your decision to hire an officer that showed a complete lack of common decency in the above stated situation.

1.  From my professional experience, past behavior is very predictive of future behavior.  Were you at all worried that Officer Schnell would be a financial liability for your department?

2.  Were you at all concerned that Officer Schnell’s obvious lack of compassion would put people in your community at risk?

3.  Do you agree that Officer Schnell should have been fired for his role in the woman’s miscarriage, or do you condone his behavior on that night?

4.  If you do think it was proper for him to be fired, why did you choose to hire him to work in your department?

5.  If you condone his behavior on that night, please explain to me why you think it was proper to deny a woman pleading for medical attention the help that she required?

6.  Officer Schnell defended his actions by arguing that he was not properly trained.  Has he completed training with your department that ensures he knows how to act as a decent human being?

I look forward to your response.

James R. Person, Chief of Police

I had to send the email twice before I got this generic answer from Chief Person.

Thank you for your e-mail.  Your interest and concern are acknowledged.  I am unable to discuss individual employee records with you.  I will, however, assure you that candidates for police officer go thru a competitive hiring procedure which includes a standardized written examination, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Shipley IQ assessment, oral interview, physical, and a back-round investigation.  An objective hiring list is established, and candidates are called from that list.  We believe this process provides our department with well qualified employees, and is objective, fair, and legal.

I have also attached our General Order #26 which delineates our code of conduct.  All employees must sign that they ascribe to these rules, and are held to this standard.

Since I found Chief Person’s answer unsatisfactory I responded with more questions.

I do appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge my concern, although your response has given me little comfort. You stated that “an objective hiring list is established and the candidates are called from that list.” At what point in the hiring process is a subjective decision made about a candidate? Who makes that subjective decision? Does the person or the people making that decision take into account past work history or past complaints about an officer including judgments or settlements stemming from those complaints?

You also stated, referring to the code of conduct that “All employees must sign that they ascribe to these rules, and are held to this standard.” I hope that this is true, but how am I suppose to know if you cannot discuss an individual employee’s records with me? Can I request all complaints filed against a particular officer or department as a whole and then be privy to the actions that were taken to address that complaint?

At this time Chief Person has not responded to this email even though I have sent it three different times.  If you would also  like to hear the answers to these questions, please email Chief Person and let him know.

Or you can call and ask for Chief Person at 816-331-5522.  Be sure to ask him why he has not found it necessary to respond to my second set of  concerns.

Paula Parmeley Carter

Paula is a Staff Writer at CopBlock. She advocates ending the monopoly on policing and protection services. When not writing at CopBlock she enjoys being a wife and mother, reading and drinking good beer.