by Ivan Foley
It was a wild night at Ferrelview City Hall.
A lengthy and contentious discussion about the town’s police chief ended with the City Hall building being cleared of upset residents by the Ferrelview police chief and two deputies from the Platte County Sheriff’s Department.
The board chairman remarked that the village will “investigate” complaints about its police chief.
Ferrelview, a village of about 450 residents located east of Interstate 29 at the KCI Airport exit, has long had a reputation with many Platte County motorists as being a speed trap. But Tuesday night’s discussion centered on allegations from numerous residents that the current police chief is abusing his authority and engaging in what some residents called “bullying” and “harassment.”
The police chief, Daniel Clayton, was encouraged by Ferrelview city attorney Scott Campbell not to engage in discussion with the speakers.
The discussion of police matters came in the audience participation portion of the meeting. It lasted 45 minutes and as the atmosphere bordered on being out of control it ended with the board of trustees making a motion to go into closed session, the Ferrelview police chief radioing for backup and the arrival of two Platte County Sheriff’s Department deputies.
After the arrival of the two deputies all three law officers told the crowd to clear the room and leave the building.
Complaints from some of the residents include a woman who says the police chief has tailgated her car so closely that if she hit the brakes it would have caused an accident, a woman who claims the chief follows her 16-year-old son every time he is walking through town and has called her son “a little punk,” a woman who says the chief denied her the right to park in a public parking lot, a man who accused the police chief of taking down flyers he had posted on private property.
The discussion was contentious, loud and at times profane from the start, with allegations being spoken from the crowd and the board responding. Many times Steve Carr, chairman of the board, urged the crowd to be civil and limit the remarks to one person at a time. Many members of the crowd were speaking from their seats without being acknowledged as having the floor.
Linda McCaslin, a member of the board of trustees, said in her opinion the people are upset because before the arrival of Clayton there had been a lack of proper law enforcement in the town.
“Nobody had a complaint about the officers in town before, because they (the people) were getting away with everything. Now we’ve got one that stops you for reasons you’re supposed to be stopped. It’s the truth. I’ve lived in this town long enough to know the police we had before didn’t stop you for a lot of things,” McCaslin told the crowd.
One speaker who addressed the board identified himself as an attorney.
“It appears to me the police chief is going around writing tickets with wild abandon, without restraint. There’s a lot of anger there,” said Dennis Rowland, an attorney in Kansas City. Rowland said he has a client who was ticketed in Ferrelview for a turn signal violation.
Rowland asked the board to conduct an investigation into the actions of the police chief.
“The police chief harassed my client by removing and dismantling his firearm,” Rowland told The Landmark after the meeting, adding that his client is a process server allowed to carry a firearm under state law. The client also has a concealed-carry permit, Rowland said.
“There are enough ticked off people there needs to be an investigation,” Rowland said.
There was also discussion about apparent confusion over a sign ordinance and whether the city’s ordinance allows the removal of flyers that have been posted with permission on private property.
City leaders were also questioned about whether Ferrelview is in compliance with a state law that limits the amount of revenue generated by its municipal court through traffic fines and other fees to 20% of the city’s general operating revenue.
Campbell, the city attorney, said Ferrelview watches that 20% figure closely “because it is important.”
Rowland said he is trying to verify through the state auditor’s office whether Ferrelview is in compliance.
One man, Derrick Hayes, continued to interrupt other speakers. Hayes had distributed flyers encouraging people to attend the meeting and voice their issues with the police department.
“I told you if you keep interrupting you’ll be removed from the meeting” the board chairman told him.
Hayes quickly exited as Clayton headed toward him to escort him out of the building.
“How much good did we do? We will see,” Hayes told The Landmark after the meeting.
“If he (Clayton) is still on the force next month then our concerns were not heard. If he is still there, it’s going to put a light on Ferrelview,” Hayes said.
“This man (the police chief) is out of control. There’s a big secret here right here among you guys and I don’t like it,” another speaker said to the board.
One speaker, identifying himself as a former police officer, defended Clayton, referring to him “as a good officer.”
“This officer is a bully. He cusses at people,” one woman said.
At one point late in the discussion, Carr, the board chairman, “These are things we’ll investigate.”
Carr also added: “This board has been elected by the people. We want to do what’s right for the village.”
Campbell, the city attorney, told The Landmark Wednesday morning:
“It is the policy of the board to refer any written complaints against an officer to the sheriff’s department to investigate. I can’t comment on the status of any ongoing investigation.”