Sheriff Jack Laurie’s Response to Ongoing Civil Litigation with the Town of Atchison | New
(Editor’s Note: On December 19, 2020, City Attorney Robert Campbell filed a writ of mandamus in the Atchison County District Court, requiring Sheriff Jack Laurie to accept all inmates he received from him. were turned over by police to the Atchison County Jail in support of Kansas Statute 60. 801. The civil action concerns a police inmate arrested on December 18, 2020 while naked and in good condition intoxicated. Mandamus alleges that the prison captain refused to accept the subject into custody as an inmate at the facility. Police transported the subject to Doniphan County Jail. City seeks trial for damages which include court costs, attorney’s fees related to the subject’s incarceration in a penal institution outside of Atchison County. It was on December 21, 2020 that the judge of the court of district, Martin Asher, signed a Court Order for Laurie to accept the Inmate initially refused into custody at the Atchison County Jail. The case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference on Monday, October 18 at the district court. Sheriff Laurie has so filed a counterclaim against the city. The following is Sheriff Jack Laurie’s response to Atchison City Manager Becky Berger’s press release regarding the counterclaim.)
“Atchison City manager Becky Berger admitted that she never ordered an investigation before she ordered what she now describes as a relatively straightforward lawsuit be brought against me (Jack Laurie ), using YOUR money to do so.
When asked in her sworn statement why she did not contact me before suing me, Berger replied, “Is there an obligation to do so? If his trial was really a relatively straightforward trial, perhaps the professional courtesy of a phone call or a simple letter outlining his claims could have been considered.
Becky isn’t in a position to blame me for the litigation costs, as the lawyer who filed the complaint is already on the Town of Atchison’s payroll. If, the city attorney, Robert Campbell, was not competent enough to bring a lawsuit which he brought under his direction, she perhaps should have explored other options. Otherwise, she might have had to consult her elected city commissioners as a whole, as a financially responsible city manager would. I have good reason to believe that all the members of the Municipal Commission were not informed of the lawsuit until after it was filed. Now, because of his actions, taxpayers in Atchison County, including those who live in the city, will bear the cost of his inexperience in overseeing the police department.
Having sued me as a county official, did she really expect me not to defend the lawsuit by telling the Sheriff / Atchison County side of the lawsuit? The truth is, for years I have asked the town of Atchison to do its job by implementing effective procedures to make it clear that when their police officers arrest people, they cannot drop them off in jail. county if and / or when they need immediate medical attention. The City is trying to shift its obligations for the proper care and treatment of those in their care, onto the sheriff and the county. Atchison County Jail is not a medical facility!
While claiming to be within the law, the Atchison Police Department’s standard operating procedures on these matters have not been updated since 2003 and have never been subjected to an external legal review for legal compliance. Police Chief Mike Wilson admitted this in his own testimony. The Atchison Police Department has never been audited for legal compliance, Berger admitted separately.
I was employed by the Town of Atchison in their Police Department for a number of years. At no time during my tenure did Chief Wilson ever provide training to me or my colleagues on our obligations under federal law to determine whether a person we had in our custody was fit to be incarcerated in the county jail before we took him there. Now, considering the conduct of Atchison’s police officers on the other side because I am now in charge of the county jail, their misconduct is evident. Unfortunately, the misconduct continued even for the duration of Ms. Berger’s legal action.
In other cases, city police will “de-arrest” suspects in their custody to avoid their obligation to seek medical attention for such persons. It is a separate violation of state law. If you go to the trouble of arresting people, the sudden decision to arrest them when you see that they need medical attention is deeply suspect, not to say dangerous. This happens quite frequently with the Atchison Police Department and dispatch records show it.
Taxpayers expect the law enforcement community to obey and not ignore the law, which includes the Atchison Police Department. If someone has been arrested and has serious medical needs, it is illegal to throw them in jail and be indifferent to their medical needs and it is an invitation to sue from those people. As Sheriff, I am obligated to protect Atchison County and the Sheriff’s Office from such lawsuits. Now that the city has acted hastily, to avenge myself on me for exposing his conduct, it seems appropriate to make the evidence public so that the whole community can assess it for themselves. This, apparently, first worried Ms Berger about the expenses of her lawsuit. I suspect it’s not the expense that really worries him.
Please let me remind you that this lawsuit was filed approximately 45 days after my successful re-election campaign in November 2020. A political campaign that the city manager allowed city employees to use resources of town, vehicles, taxpayers’ money and their official job titles to campaign against me in the sheriff’s election. Why are your taxes wasted and used for political ends? “