state commission has determined that Ferrelview’s police chief tampered with a public record and should be disciplined for his action.
The disciplinary action–which is still to be determined–could be as severe as revoking his peace officer’s license.
The decision on a complaint against Daniel L. Clayton, Village of Ferrelview police chief, was reached on Nov. 6 by the Administrative Hearing Commission for the State of Missouri.
The matter involving Clayton, whose tactics as the police chief at Ferrelview often have been controversial for the past few years, will now be advanced to the Missouri Director of Public Safety for disciplinary action. The director will make the call on any discipline to be handed down to Clayton, age 33. Options include a suspension of his peace officer’s license or revocation of that license.
Despite several well-publicized incidents over alleged overly aggressive tactics in recent years, some that resulted in lawsuits being filed, Clayton has remained on the job as Ferrelview’s police chief, apparently still receiving the support from the current board of trustees at the village.
The Village of Ferrelview, population approximately 400, is located east of I-29 not far from the KCI Airport exit. Ferrelview had a population of 451 in the 2010 census.
Phil Gilliam, current chairman of the Ferrelview Board of Trustees, did not return phone messages seeking comment on the state’s ruling in the complaint against Clayton.
Meanwhile, Dennis Rowland, an attorney based in Kansas City who has represented many clients who had interaction with Clayton in his role as police chief, said he is not surprised at the ruling.
“The Administration Hearing Commission has confirmed what I have known through observations, and in reviewing numerous incident reports and verbal complaints and court documents since early 2016. Officer Clayton has little regard for rights of the general public or his basic obligation for ethical conduct of a police officer,” Rowland told The Landmark.
The commission determined that Clayton “impaired the verity of the citations” he wrote to a Ferrelview resident.
Rowland notes that the finding of the commission will make it very difficult–if not impossible–for Clayton to testify as a trusted witness in a court of law.
“Because he now has a reputation for ‘impairing the verity’ of citations he writes, his effectiveness and credibility as a police officer has become substantially diminished, basically zero. Any defense counsel will surely question his credibility in any subsequent actions in which he is involved by reference to this matter,” Rowland remarked.
Ferrelview’s municipal citations are now heard in Platte County Circuit Court after Ferrelview recently transferred its city court operations to the circuit court.
“This is unfortunate. Even after all the negative interactions between him, the general public and I, I could see that Officer Clayton still had potential. He has the basic ability and desire to become a meaningful member of any police force but he doesn’t seem to get beyond certain requirements expected of such a member, such as respect for the law and the basic rights of the general public,” Rowland noted.
“Because of his conduct, because he can no longer be considered credible, and for the protection of the general public, revocation of his commission appears to be the best remedy,” Rowland added.
FINDINGS OF FACT
The specific incident that now threatens Clayton’s career in law enforcement began on Jan. 25, 2016. Susanne Gilheaney was a passenger in a motor vehicle that Clayton stopped. Clayton arrested the driver. Gilheaney was subsequently arrested by Clayton, placed in handcuffs and transported to the Platte County Jail.
When Gilheaney arrived at the detention center, she provided her name and address to the booking officer at the sheriff’s office. From this, Clayton was able to get the number of her apartment building and the number of her apartment.
Gilheaney was not issued any citations on Jan. 25 or Jan. 26, 2016 while she was in custody at the detention center. She was released at about 8 p.m. on Jan. 26, 2016. Clayton, in his official incident report, noted that Gilheaney was “issued two citations for failing to obey a lawful order and resisting arrest and a court date was set for Feb. 7, 2016.” Clayton signed and dated the report Jan. 26, 2016.
On about Feb. 3, Clayton served Gilheaney two citations by leaving them in an envelope beside her apartment door. He signed both tickets and dated them Jan. 25, 2016, the date of the arrest.
Clayton stated in his report that Gilheaney was issued her citations on Jan. 25, 2016. But, the state ruled Clayton actually prepared the citations shortly before they were left for Gilheaney at her apartment door on Feb. 3.
Importantly, at the bottom of both citations on the signature line it states “refused (to sign) in custody.”
The state determined Gilheaney was never offered an opportunity to sign the citations while she was in custody because they were not prepared until several days later, and she never saw the citations prior to the time she was served them.
The “refused in custody” that Clayton had written on the signature lines initially confused an investigator with the sheriff’s department. Det. Nancy Penrod with the Platte County Sheriff’s Department reviewed the citations and initially believed Gilheaney was offered the chance to sign the citations but had refused to do so, based on Clayton’s note of “refused in custody.”
Penrod interviewed Clayton in 2016 in late February or early March. Prior to interviewing him, she advised him of his Miranda rights. During that interview, Clayton stated he wrote the citations about nine days after Gilheaney was arrested and that he did not offer Gilheaney an opportunity to sign the citations while she was held in the jail, nor did he offer her a chance to sign the citations on the date he “served the tickets on her.”
According to the state’s finding of facts, Penrod asked Clayton twice during the interview if the statement “refused in custody” that he wrote on the citations was a lie. The first time Clayton specifically stated in response that it was not. Clayton did not answer the question the second time it was asked, according to the state’s findings.
Clayton testified in front of the Administrative Hearing Commission that he did not fill out the citations issued to Gilheaney until approximately nine days after the date of the incident.
Tampering with a public record is a class A misdemeanor criminal offense, according to the state.
The state commission ruled that Clayton knowingly made a false entry on a public record “with the purpose to impair the verity, legibility, or availability of a public record.”
Four facts showed that Clayton acted with purpose, the state says.
First, in his report, Clayton used the date when Gilheaney was arrested and not the date he wrote the citations. Second, Clayton wrote on the citations that Gilheaney had refused to sign the citations while being held in custody, when in fact she was never given the opportunity to sign them.
Third, he wrote that Gilheaney refused to sign because she was in custody when she was not in custody when the citations were written. Fourth, he served the citations on Gilheaney by leaving them beside her apartment door instead of handing them to her.
“By doing all of this, Clayton impaired the verity of the citations and the report because it leads the reader to believe that something occurred on a different date and in a different manner than what actually happened.”
No timetable has been set for the director of public safety to announce a decision on the discipline to be given Clayton.