KCKPD Chief defends internal review of Golubski's cases: 'Who better to clean their own house?'
Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Karl Oakman insisted Monday that his department can handle a review of more than 150 cases handled by former detective Roger Golubski. Critics say the department's involvement won't lead to an independent review.
Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Karl Oakman brushed aside concerns that his department can’t be trusted to conduct an impartial review of cases investigated by a former detective who faces federal felony charges.
Oakman held a press conference Monday to reveal details of a plan to re-examine 155 cases that Roger Golubski investigated between the time he became a detective for the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department in 1988 and when he retired in 2010.
Golubski has been accused of gross misconduct and criminal behavior during his career with the KCKPD and faces criminal charges in two separate federal cases. In one, a grand jury indicted him for violating the civil rights of a girl and a woman the indictment alleges he raped and kidnapped. In the second, he is accused of protecting members of a sex trafficking operation from law enforcement scrutiny.
“Although the crimes date back 20 to 25 years ago, he did wear the uniform and caused pain to members of this community and shame to the badge,” Oakman told reporters at KCKPD headquarters. “Based on these charges, Golubski‘s tenure in law enforcement was a moral, ethical and legal failure.”
But critics have taken aim at the KCKPD participating in any review of Golubski’s police work since word of the initiative surfaced last week. They say the KCKPD cannot conduct an independent investigation.
“As a department that shielded and protected Golubski, KCKPD should be nowhere near the review of his cases,” the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equality, or MORE2, said in a statement. “This is why MORE2 and our partners continue in a unified call for the Department of Justice to come in, from an independent perspective, and conduct a full pattern or practice investigation.”
Oakman said no one in the department with ties to Golubski will be involved in the review.
“That's always the response,” Oakman said in response to questions about the department’s impartiality. “But who better to clean their own house than those who are involved in it?”
Dania Diaz, managing director of rapper and businessman Jay-Z’s social justice organization Team ROC, said Kansas City, Kansas, residents deserve transparency from a credible, independent organization and not from one facing scrutiny.
“Given the widespread and longstanding allegations of corruption within the KCKPD, the notion that local law enforcement can responsibly investigate itself is delusional,” Diaz said in an email. “It’s imperative that the Department of Justice conduct a pattern-or-practice investigation of the KCKPD as well as Roger Golubski’s cases and hold all culprits accountable for their past and current crimes.”
Past attempts to investigate
Oakman said a team of detectives and commanders will look over 155 cases that Golubski investigated or had a hand in during his time as a detective for KCKPD.
That review team will look for signs that policies or procedures were not followed, whether investigative techniques were ethical and legal, and whether evidence supported the identification of the suspect in the case.
Any signs that Golubski acted inappropriately will result in the FBI and Wyandotte County District Attorney hearing about it and the case being transferred to the KCKPD’s cold cases unit, Oakman said.
The KCKPD will also review Golubski’s entire tenure as a department employee, which started in 1975, and use those findings to “ensure that officers such as Golubski will never have the opportunity to exist in the future,” Oakman said.
“These two initiatives will not be quick but will be thorough,” Oakman said. “The estimated time to review all cases is 18 to 24 months.”
Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree said his office will also examine old police cases to spot irregularities in Golubski’s police work. Dupree’s office is expected to receive $1.7 million from the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Commissioners to fund the effort.
That money will help purchase software to scan in and search for police records bearing Golubski’s name — papers that are currently stuffed in boxes and located in what Dupree called a dangerous area of the old city jail.
Dupree said Unified Government Commissioners rejected an earlier request by his office for funding to help with a deeper investigation. That was after Dupree’s office concluded that Golubski’s police work in a 1994 double-homicide put Lamonte McIntyre in prison for 23 years for a crime he did not commit.
Dupree said he reached out to other law enforcement agencies about Golubski.
“We reached out to the Department of Justice, we reached out to the FBI, we reached out to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. And ultimately, we reached out to the U.S. Attorney for the State of Kansas, to ask them to review Lamonte McIntyre's case, as well as concerns that we had with Mr. Golubski,” Dupree said. “In 2018, the FBI at that time could not, for whatever reason, take those cases.”
An FBI spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Dupree’s characterization.
Dupree said he did not request the KCKPD’s help at that time because Golubski’s former detective partner, Terry Zeigler, was police chief. Dupree said the KCKPD did not cooperate until Oakman became police chief in 2021.
“Information was not passed along. The investigation was stunted,” Dupree said. “And this department was not cooperative with that investigation until Chief Oakman got into place.”
Dupree said he later met with the then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, Stephen McAllister, and the FBI again, which at that time was able to take on an investigation of Golubski.
Scrutiny of Golubski’s policing career began with a private investigation into the circumstances surrounding McIntyre’s conviction for a double homicide in broad daylight in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1994.
That investigation revealed problems with Golubski’s police work on the double homicide, which uncovered no physical evidence connecting McIntyre to the crime. It also relied on the testimony of two witnesses, both of whom were subject to coercion by police and one of whom later recanted her statements that put McIntyre at the scene of the crime.
Based on the findings of that investigation, the Wyandotte County District Attorney found that a “manifest injustice” had occurred, resulting in McIntyre exoneration and release from prison in 2017.
In 2018, McIntyre and his mother sued Golubski, other KCKPD officers and the Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, accusing Golubski of routinely exploiting vulnerable Black women in Kansas City, Kansas, to obtain either sex or fabricated testimony to clear cases he investigated. The McIntyres also claimed that Golubski helped protect notorious drug dealers in Kansas City, Kansas.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Kansas, agreed to settle the case for $12.5 million, the largest settlement ever paid in a wrongful conviction case in Kansas. The Unified Government had to sell bonds to fund the settlement.
FBI agents arrested Golubski at his Edwardsville, Kansas, home in September after a federal grand jury returned the first indictment.
Dupree invited anyone who has information about Golubski’s conduct to reach out to KCKPD.
“But if you don't want to go to them, come to us,” Dupree said. “…If you don't want to come to the D.A.’s office or KCKPD, call the feds. But by all means, we can't do this work without you.”