Calls for Shawnee County Sheriff to Resign! 

Calls for Shawnee County Sheriff to Resign! 
Posted by FoM on March 15, 1999 at 07:51:56 PT

These days, Meneley and his deputies spend a good deal of their time testifying in Shawnee County District Court, where attorneys for Carlos Hernandez are seeking to dismiss charges of marijuana possession and failure to purchase a state drug tax stamp. 
 Kansas sheriffs from the state's rough-and-tumble cowtowns of the last century had nothing on Dave Meneley, the Shawnee County sheriff who faces fire from almost every quarter these days. Criticism of the lawman is so widespread that detractors almost have to stand in line for a chance to take a verbal shot at him. A sampling of what's swirling around Meneley: There have been calls for his resignation, including one from Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall and another from all three members of the Shawnee County Commission. Allegations of illegal drug use in the sheriff's department, drugs missing from the sheriff's evidence room and suggestions of perjury and a cover-up have surfaced in a District Court hearing in Topeka and in a 1996 Kansas Bureau of Investigation probe of the department. A citizens' group plans to circulate recall petitions in hopes of forcing an election that could lead to the removal from office of the 56-year-old, two-term sheriff. In Meneley's mind, there's no trick to identifying the root of his problems: politics. "It's all political," he said. "It is; it's political. If they took the politics out of it and put the law into it, they wouldn't have anything." These days, Meneley and his deputies spend a good deal of their time testifying in Shawnee County District Court, where attorneys for Carlos Hernandez are seeking to dismiss charges of marijuana possession and failure to purchase a state drug tax stamp. They contend that "outrageous" governmental conduct in the department, including problems with the handling of evidence, should be enough to dismiss charges against their client. District Attorney Joan Hamilton has put on a full-court attack on the dismissal motion. If Hernandez is successful, Hamilton fears, a string of convictions could be in jeopardy because of problems with the department's handling of evidence."If there is outrageous governmental conduct by anyone, those persons should be held accountable and the whole department would not be judged by (the actions of) a few," Hamilton said. "You're trying to protect the good guys and bring out the bad guys." What has attracted the most attention is missing drugs from the department's evidence holding areas and the fact that one deputy admitted he sought treatment for cocaine addiction. He said he obtained drugs during his work as a deputy. "We're not the first department to have a narcotics officer who's stepped over the line and used drugs," the sheriff said, "and they've survived, and we will, too." Meneley said he didn't learn of the former deputy's addiction until March 1, when the deputy publicly admitted his problem. But members of the department have testified that the sheriff told them of the deputy's cocaine addiction earlier. Meneley said the deputy, who no longer is with the department, told him he was being treated for alcoholism, not drug addiction. "Do I feel betrayed?" Meneley asked. "Sure, I feel betrayed. He admitted he lied to me." The controversy has prompted repeated calls for Meneley to resign. At one point, Meneley said, he considered stepping down for the sake of his family. A 21-year veteran of the Topeka Police Department, Meneley is eligible for retirement. "I'm not ready to retire," he said. "I like the job." Meneley says his advisers said they didn't want him to resign, and "in the meantime the public is giving me a vote of confidence, at least in those cards and letters and phone calls, that they want me to stay. They don't want me to resign, so that's given me the strength to keep going." County commissioners, among those who asked Meneley to quit, said there are no political motives behind their request. They noted that the commission consists of a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. All three endorsed the request for Meneley, a Republican, to resign. Commission Chairman Ted Ensley, the Democrat, said the commission's action was in "the best interests of the community." "The healing process won't begin until such time as he does," Ensley said. "The support in the community has reached the point where it is not recoverable." The commission's independent member, Mike Meier, said morale has been low in the sheriff's department for some time. "If the sheriff comes forward with the truth, if he's not telling the truth, there will be forgiveness in the community." But he said the chance for forgiveness won't last "if he goes on much longer." Meneley said he might even run for a third term as sheriff. "I just may stay for another one just to irritate them, and if the public wants me they will vote me back in," he said. But in the meantime, even as the pressure intensifies, the sheriff said he won't be "laying on the ropes like an old boxer and getting hit." "I'm not going to stand back and let people kick me around like this." To reach John L. Petterson, Topeka correspondent, call (785) 354-1388 or send e-mail to jpetterson,local/30dad328.314,.html
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: