Community members wary of KCKPD plan to review former detective Golubski's cases
Kansas City, Kansas, Police and the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s office will offer more details Monday on plans to look at the decades of criminal cases connected to former KCKPD Detective Roger Golubski. Activists call police involvement in the review a "major red flag."
Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Tyrone Garner stood at the edge of the crowd watching a rally organized by Team ROC, the philanthropic arm of rapper Jay-Z’s empire.
About 200 people braved freezing temperatures Thursday, listening as speakers stood before a banner that read “#Justice4KCK. End KCKPD Corruption.”
When reporters waved down Garner on the sidewalk, he defended the department, saying there are good officers on the force. But when asked about claims that the city and county had not done enough to investigate the many complaints from victims and others, Garner bristled.
The three men at the top of Wyandotte County — himself, District Attorney Mark Dupree and Police Chief Karl Oakman — are all working on reforms, he said.
“And I think anybody that thinks otherwise, I just think that they're misguided in that notion that you would have three Black males that would sit on their hands in regards to allegations that allegedly affected the African American community,” Garner said.
Those three men appeared to be working in tandem last week, with Oakman announcing Friday that he will collaborate with Dupree’s office in reviewing every criminal case connected to former KCKPD Detective Roger Golubski, who faces federal charges of rape, kidnapping, sexual assault and conspiracy sex trafficking.
Golubski was arrested by the FBI on September 15, and released on home detention a few days later. The initial indictment accused him of violating the civil rights of two women with rape, sexual assault and kidnapping. Last Monday, Golubski was charged in a new indictment that said he was paid by Kansas City, Kansas, drug dealers to protect a sex trafficking operation of underage girls.
Dupree introduced his plan Thursday night, just a few hours after the rally, as he stood in front of Garner and the rest of the board of commissioners of the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, winning approval to spend $1.7 million on digitizing case files dating back decades. Dupree said it was needed so his office can review every file touched by Golubski.
More details are expected Monday at a joint press conference with Oakman and Dupree to outline these reforms and the plan to “create a diverse team” to review Golubski’s cases.
“We’ve gotten to the point where Wyandotte County is not only watching,” Garner said before voting for Dupree’s plan, “the world is watching Wyandotte County.”
But the move was questioned by activists who have long called for a U.S. Department of Justice “pattern-or-practice” investigation, run by the department’s Civil Rights Division to look at excessive force, biased policing or other problems.
“While we applaud the efforts from the Unified Government to encourage a full review, reports that KCKPD could be involved are a major red flag,” MORE2, a KCK social justice group, said in a statement to KCUR.
“As a department that shielded and protected Golubski, KCKPD should be nowhere near the review of his cases.”
That was echoed by Ricky Kidd, a Kansas City man who was exonerated in 2019 for a double homicide he didn’t commit. Kidd, who now also serves as community engagement manager for the Midwest Innocence Project and is a MORE2 board member, said he welcomes sincere efforts to review the cases and correct injustice, but there still needs to be a DOJ investigation.
“One of the strong takeaways for me, as a directly impacted person, is strengthened resolve to insist on a pattern or practice investigation from the DOJ,” Kidd said. “No announcement from the Unified Government will change that.”
Khadijah Hardaway, founder of Justice for Wyandotte, which advocates for a list of Black women whose unsolved homicides can be connected to Golubski, said there must be an independent review of his cases.
“There has been a lack of transparency within the Unified Government, KCK police department, and the district attorney’s office,” she said. “Therefore we believe a third party should step in to digitize the files and/or the Justice Department should set up office within these three entities to show ultimate transparency.”
Dupree told the county commissioners that his office has been reviewing some of Golubski’s cases since 2018 as part of his Conviction Integrity Unit. Now he wants to digitize the county’s criminal case files dating back to the 1950’s to be able to search the documents.
“The goal for us digitizing all of this is to bring more transparency, accountability and justice,” Dupree said.