Ethics in Law Enforcement event discusses national police reform in Kansas


File photo by Easton Thompson

The Law Enforcement Training Center opens its doors to many law enforcement agencies for training. The center opened on campus for the first time in 2018.

Michelle Meier, commission counsel at the Kansas Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training (KS-CPOST), spoke to Wichita State students Wednesday to discuss law enforcement ethics and police reform in Kansas. 

The event was sponsored by the School of Criminal Justice and the Criminal Justice Student Association and was geared towards students who had aspirations to follow a career in law enforcement.

The KS-CPOST is responsible for overseeing all law enforcement training in the state of Kansas and has the power to deny, revoke or suspend certification to any individual that does not fit the standards.

“When an officer is employed as an officer, we will issue a certification so the person can perform and act as a law enforcement officer in Kansas,” Meier said. 

CPOST will continue to track the officer throughout their career. When an agency hires an officer, they send CPOST a form. The agency is also required to send a form when an officer separates — whether through retirement or termination. 

KS-CPOST also serves as a resource for ‘“wandering officers”.

“What that means is just, when you have an officer that is employed and engages in misconduct or bad behavior, and they just go from agency to agency to agency … they continue that path of destruction through those agencies,” Meier said. “That’s obviously something we want to prevent, so we do in Kansas have a system in place to prevent that.”

CPOST is also responsible for investigating violations within law enforcement.

“We investigate instances where they violate statutes and if necessary and appropriate we’ll take certification action,” Meier said.

Meier said that police reform is an important movement to push for. 

“[Police reform is] necessary and timely,” she said. “If you want to engage in meaningful conversation about that particularly in Kansas, you need to know what’s happening now.”

“Kansas has the authority to decertify an officer,” Meier said. “There are still four states, and then the federal government, that don’t have the authority to do that … They can give an officer a sort of certification but they can’t take it away, I think that’s problematic.”

Kansas has 8,655 active law enforcement officers. They took 371 certification actions between 2012-2020.

Consequences for officers who engage in wrong behavior varies, Meier said.

“The most serious is a revocation where a certification is taken and that person can no longer be an officer in the state of Kansas, and then there’s suspension where, you know, [their may] be a set period where you’re suspended for a year, you can’t be an officer for a year, or there might be qualifications on what they have to do to get their suspension lifted,” Meier said. 

Other consequences include reprimands or denying certification for officers.

Meier said the best advice she can give to individuals who want to get a head start in pursuing a career in law enforcement is to stay truthful.

“The biggest advice I have for you is don’t lie,” Meier said.

“I’ve had several cases where the officer crushes their patrol begice, and you know the agency is not going to like that, but if you do it enough, they might fire you, but you can probably get a job at a new agency, that’s not a career ender … What is a career ender is if you crash your car, and you claim that someone crashed into you. Now you’ve lied.

“You can never regain your integrity, you can never regain that trust.”

Anyone can go in online and see every certification action KS-CPOST has taken. 

“One of the things we try to do here is transparency,” Meier said.

“If you go on our website … If you go under the certification tab, to certification actions then you can run that either by date or name and you can see all the actions we’ve taken back to 1998.”