OPP Chief Donchez’ resignation and PWKC Local Art Fair

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We discuss the upcoming PeaceWorks Kansas City Local Art Fair following a brief review of some of the background behind the abrupt resignation of Overland Park Police Chief Donchez 2023-09-12 that we have not seen in the current reports on his resignation.

The abrupt resignation of Overland Park Police Chief Donchez

It has been widely reported that Overland Park Police Chief Donchez abruptly resigned last Tuesday morning, 2023-09-12, “for personal reasons.” At the time, the City of Overland Park offered no further comment apart from an email from Shiela Albers, mother of John Albers, who was killed 2018-01-20 at age 17 by Overland Park Police Officer Clayton Jenison. Jenison and another officer had been dispatched to the Albers home for a “wellness check” after a friend of John Albers had called 911 to report that John may have been taking pills and drinking and may want to hurt himself. Before identifying themselves, the two police officers saw the young Albers open the garage door and backing a minivan down the driveway. Jenison reportedly then yelled, “Stop, Stop, Stop,” and shot multiple times, killing Albers instantly.

The email from Shiela Albers said that she had attended part of the city council meeting on Monday evening, 2023-09-11, and Chief Donchez had approacher asking to dialogue. Among other things, Ms. Albers reported saying that “John struggled with his mental health.” Chief Donchez replied, “And you left him at his time of need.”

First, however, I feel a need to provide a bit more background about the sudden resignation last week of Overland Park Chief of Police Donchez than what I’ve seen in the recent news. It has been widely reported that the previous day, Chief Donchez had initiated an exchange with Shiela Albers, mother of John Albers, who had been shot and killed in 2019 at age 17 by an Overland Park police officer, as noted above.

Last Friday the Kansas City Star also reported that the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office was investigating criminal allegations involving a police nonprofit where three of Donchez’ officers served as directors.

Also, in 2019, an Overland Park police officer had handcuffed and arrested a Shawnee Mission eighth grader who had formed her fingers into a pretend gun and aimed at her classmates.

And in 2021 two police officers had filed suit for age, gender, and race discrimination in promotions.

Worse, in 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union had accused the Overland Park Police of an “overly reactive and militarized response” to a Black Lives Matter protest. At that time, four nonviolent protestors had been arrested with one charged with a felony.

Eight months later, in April 2021, the Metropolitan Organization for Racial and Economic Equality, MORE-squared, held a press conference claiming that those arrest had resulted from white nationalists complaining about those protests. The white nationalists reportedly told the police that they “weren’t trained to handle terrorists”, i.e., the nonviolent protesters, but would take care of them if the police did not. A report by The Pitch on that April 2021 press conference said that one of those white nationalists was in custody at that time for his role in the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol earlier that year. Chris Newlin, then on the Overland Park City Council, said that “The Chief mentioned that Proud Boys were going to show up.” So rather than protect the nonviolent demonstrators from white supremacists with a history of violence, the police arrested nonviolent demonstrators.

Last Friday, The Kansas City Star quoted Sheila Albers as saying, “I am fully confident that Overland Park will have a rigorous process and choose an outstanding new Chief of Police”.

More on this including citations to documentation of these claims is available in the Wikipedia article on “Killing of John Albers“.

However, it is the personal opinion of Spencer Graves that residents of Overland Park concerned about law enforcement would be wise to remain vigilant and in contact with their city council members during recruitment and selection of a new Chief of Police. We all need strong effective law enforcement. We do not need killer cops. We need transparency that seems to be lacking in law enforcement. I do not want law enforcement officers worrying about going to prison for a judgment call, but I also do not want people with a history of deadly poor judgment authorized to use lethal force. We need truth and reconciliation.

As indicated, this is a personal opinion. It is not an official position of KKFI, the Mid-Coast Radio Project or anyone else associated with KKFI.

PeaceWorks Kansas City Local Art Fair

Henry Stoever, Theo Wren, and Iryna Strogonova discuss the PeaceWorks Kansas City Local Art Fair, this coming Saturday and Sunday, September 23 and 24, 10 AM to 6 PM Saturday and 10 AM to 5 PM Sunday, with Radio Active Magazine regular Spencer Graves. Full disclosure: Graves is the Secretary of PeaceWorks Kansas City. Stoever is a member of their board. Theo and Iryna are local artists, who will be exhibiting this weekend. Theo primarily does beadwork. Iryna is a Ukrainian-born Kansas City artist. Works by Theo Wren are available at etsy.com/shop/fairywrencuriosity.


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