KMBC 9 Investigates has obtained new video of the officer at the center of an outside investigation into the Independence Police Department’s use of overtime for construction projects at police headquarters.
The video, from a day in January of this year, shows a snapshot of a police officer working long hours on a jail construction project that took more than a year to complete.
The master police officer worked as a de facto foreman for a police headquarters renovation at the request of his bosses, namely the department’s former chief Brad Halsey.
For his work, he received more than $169,000 pay in overtime last year, making him the city’s top paid employee with total earnings of more than $263,000.
The majority of the work on the construction project happened without any competitive bidding or permitting, and was approved by Halsey, who retired in December. The acting chief, Ken Jarnagin, was put on administrative leave earlier this year as the investigation began.
A source close to the police department and investigation, who asked not to be identified, told KMBC the officer completed work he logged on overtime slips and generally followed longstanding department practices for overtime, including the January day reviewed by KMBC 9 Investigates.
The source said once the officer was ordered to do the work by his bosses, the officer spent long hours trying to make deadlines during the project. Often, those deadlines meant doing work while detainees had to be transferred from the Independence detention facility to another facility, or meeting subcontractors’ deadlines to progress to the next phase of the project.
The officer, during his work, did use longstanding department overtime practices approved by department leaders that allow officers, on days where they claim an earned vacation day, to work overtime, according to the source. Those overtime practices also allow officers to count drive-time to and from home as overtime hours. The officer in question lives nearly 40 miles from police headquarters.
KMBC is withholding the name the officer since he is not charged criminally, nor is he facing administrative sanctions as the outside investigation continues. The city also redacted the officer’s identity on the video, citing a section of Missouri Sunshine Law that protects officers’ identities working undercover investigations.
KMBC 9 Investigates requests video to review officer’s work
Since the overtime slips filled out by the officer had such long hours, KMBC 9 Investigates wanted to see if the slips matched the actual hours the officer worked by reviewing department surveillance video.
In February, KMBC 9 Investigates first requested video from the City of Independence for a day in September when the officer certified he worked 21.5 hours of overtime.
The Independence city clerk said the department only keeps surveillance video at police headquarters between 35 to 45 days.
So, KMBC revised the request to obtain video from Jan. 13, when the officer certified he worked 17 hours.
On that day, the officer first appeared on video at 10:59 a.m. in the building’s detention center, according to a city video log.
The log shows him on camera every hour until he left through the building’s lobby at 9:29 p.m.
City workers provided the log in response to the open records request from KMBC 9 Investigates.
A sampling of that video, during the middle of the day, shows the officer worked on a door in the jail’s booking area and an electricity project in the booking area.
The officer wrote on a police department overtime voucher he began work at 6 a.m. and stopped work at 11 p.m., leaving a gap of roughly six and a half hours on both ends of the day where the overtime slip and the video log does not match.
However, a source close to the investigation says the officer’s first keycard access at police headquarters was 7:49 a.m. on Jan. 13, meaning he got to the building sooner that day.
Even though video records obtained by KMBC 9 Investigates don’t show the work, it is likely the officer worked at police headquarters away from cameras, or outside of the building, that day. A police department spokesman said cameras are pointed toward more public facing areas of the building, where officers enter and exit the building, along with the detention center where prisoners are booked, but do not capture work done on administrative floors of the building.
The overtime slip from Jan. 13, also shows he wrote “getting materials at HD, CES, and TV.” A source close to the police department and investigation said on this day specifically, the officer specifically went with a subcontractor to find electrical parts at various supply stores for the headquarters construction project.
Meanwhile, an outside probe by a special investigator into the construction work at Independence police headquarters is still ongoing.
Four other sworn members of the department certified they worked on construction projects for the police department, too. Additionally, two other officers made more than $100,000 in overtime in 2021, according to city records. All, including their bosses, are now under scrutiny in a widening independent investigation into overtime and payroll practices and policies among the police department.
So far, the city has spent roughly $35,000 on the outside investigation.
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