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Three Law Enforcement Officers Charged With Trying To Cover Up Hit And Run, Another With Buying Sex In Kansas City, Kansas

Mark Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney, at a press conference Wednesday announcing charges against four law enforcement officers. Dupree was sworn in for his second term on Monday.
Peggy Lowe
KCUR 89.3
Mark Dupree, Wyandotte County District Attorney, at a press conference Wednesday announcing charges against four law enforcement officers. Dupree was sworn in for his second term on Monday.

Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree promised to hold law enforcement officers accountable in a community with a history of “open wounds” from police brutality.

Four Wyandotte County law enforcement officers were charged with misdemeanor crimes by District Attorney Mark Dupree on Wednesday, who promised to investigate all wrongdoing by law enforcement.

Three were charged in a December 2019 hit-and-run in a Unified Government vehicle, with two charged with attempting to cover it up. A fourth officer was charged with hiring a prostitute.

Dupree also announced that his Community Integrity Unit was up and running as of Wednesday, though the four cases did not come from that effort. The new unit will work to enhance the community’s relations with the police and has an independent review process for minor and misdemeanor complaints brought by the community. A bilingual hotline was operational as of Wednesday at 913-573-8100.

Dupree said holding law enforcement officers accountable was especially important in a county where a notorious police officer allegedly abused women for decades.

As KCUR has reported, former Kansas City, Kansas, police officer Roger Golubski is being investigated by the FBI and faces allegations in a civil lawsuit that he exploited vulnerable Black women for sexual favors, coercing some into fabricating testimony to clear cases he investigated.

There’s no secret about Golubski, Dupree said, which has left “many of our citizens with open wounds.”

“I think it’s important for the community to know that law enforcement’s job is to protect and to serve and the vast majority of law enforcement takes that serious,” he said. “But for those who dare to stain the trust of the community with such acts — it will not be tolerated.”

Michael Demile Simmons, Jr., an investigator with the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office since 2008, was charged with driving the vehicle that crashed on Interstate 70. Sarah G. Panjada, a Kansas City, Kansas, police detective, and Andrew J. Carver, a major in the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office, both face two counts of attempting to obstruct the investigation by state officials.

Panjada, who had been with the police force since 2011, left in February to pursue another job, according to Nancy Chartrand, a KCK Police public information officer. Toms, who was investigated by the KCK Police Department’s internal affairs unit, has been on administrative leave since December 15, Chartrand said.

“The official misconduct by the other two individuals prevented further charges that could have and possibly should have been against Simmons,” Dupree said, including possible charges of driving drunk.

The fourth case charges Travis E. Toms, a Kansas City, Kansas, police officer, with a misdemeanor count of trying to “knowingly hire a person selling sexual relations” on Nov. 16, 2020. Toms was in uniform at the time, Dupree said.

The vast number of law enforcement officers in Wyandotte County are honorable, Dupree said, but they are no longer willing to stand by and allow the kind of behavior that destroys trust in residents.

“There are officers who are saying today ‘enough is enough,’ and they’re tired of living beneath a flag of foolishness,” Dupree said. “And they’re not taking it anymore and neither are we.”

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
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