Topeka Police Chief explains investigation process following use of force complaint

Published: Sep. 2, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A recent use of force claim filed by Tamiko Mitchell following an arrest on August 23rd has shined a spotlight on the Topeka Police Department.

Chief Bill Cochran said there are many layers to a use of force investigation and their policy ensures an extensive review is carried out on all complaints.

“When a use of force is applied, the officer must report that to their supervisor,” he said, “That supervisor then forwards that up to the shift commander who gets all the video, reports and interviews and makes an assessment. Then it goes up to the captain and they all do this independent of each other, they don’t get in a room and look at everything together.”

Cochran said it continues all the way up the ranks before it gets sent to the Independent Police Auditor.

“The citizens of Topeka should be really pleased with the Topeka Police Department in the aspect that we have so many layers in place,” he continued saying, “It is such an extensive review. It’s really looked at by a lot of different eyes and different levels. A lot of agencies, that’s not the case.”

Cochran said the process within the department can take anywhere from a week, to a week and a half.

“The process, as you can see with that many layers, sometimes can be lengthy and sometimes that’s one of the things that bothers people, it takes too long in their opinion to review it,” he said.

Cochran stands by the department’s policy calling it “thorough” and “in-depth.”

“There are going to be incidences come up that people don’t like,” he said, “Those are situations we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis when they happen, but I can tell you that the Topeka Police Department is very highly trained, well educated and a professional police force and when situations arise we deal with them in an appropriate manner.”

Cochran said if the Independent Police Auditor does not agree with the department’s findings he will then meet with the city manager to discuss next steps.

City Manager, Brent Trout, said the city is moving as quickly as possible to complete the investigation and will be releasing body-cam footage once legal requirements are met.

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