Overland Park Police Chief resigns following cruel discussion with grieving mother
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) - An email revealing an interaction between former Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez and a grieving mother led to Donchez’s resignation Tuesday night.
The city released an email detailing a confrontation between Donchez and Sheila Albers, the mother of John Albers, an Overland Park teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in January 2018.
According to the email from Shelia Albers to Mayor Curt Skoog and City Manager Lori Curtis Luther, the confrontation happened at Monday night’s Overland Park City Council meeting.
“I attended a portion of the city council meeting this evening,” Albers wrote to the City leaders in an email sent Monday night at 10:53 p.m. “My intent was just to sit in the back and listen.”
Sheila said that she was approached by Donchez in an attempt to engage in dialogue about the 30x30 initiative -- an initiative that aims to advance women in policing by 30 percent by 2030.
“He shook my hand and he started by telling me he was trying,” the email continued. “I told him he needed to try harder. He replied by (talking) about how badly police have been bashed over the last few years and how difficult it is to recruit. I told (him) the same goes for teaching and nursing.”
Sheila cited a 2019 interview Donchez conducted that led her to see the now-former Overland Park Police Chief as untrustworthy. A reporter in the interview asked Donchez if Officer Clayton Jenison had been reprimanded or encouraged to leave.
According to Sheila, Donchez said Jenison “left too soon before those discussions could occur,” something her review of a 2020 severance payment revealed to be incorrect.
“I pushed Donchez hard on the lies he told in that interview and his response was asking me if I have ever lied before,” Sheila, a former Blue Valley School District principal, wrote in the Monday email. “I told him I have not lied in a professional setting like that.
“He then said, ‘I am sure you and Steve tell everyone you were the best parents. I read the OISIT report.’ I replied with, ‘John struggled with his mental health.’ Donchez replied, ‘And you left him at his time of need.’
You can read the full email from Sheila Albers to the City of Overland Park here.
Reached by KCTV on Wednesday afternoon, Sheila Albers said she had no idea the email would lead to his termination.
“There have been more significant issues than former Chief Donchez’s unprofessional comments,” she told KCTV while also urging OPPD to hire a forward-thinking Chief of Police.
“It is important for the community to continue to hold government accountable,” Sheila said. “Over the past year-and-a-half, Overland Park has made strides in becoming more transparent and responsive to its citizens. Now, it has the opportunity to elevate trust at the top of law enforcement by hiring a forward-thinking Chief of Police. Public safety has and will continue to be a hallmark of our community. I have trust in our current leadership that Overland Park will be an even stronger and healthier community in the years to come.”
A council member says the city has always had a problem with transparency. He tells us he pushed for it in 2018 with the John Albers case, and he’s pushing for it now.
“I pushed significantly to release 500 pages and that thankfully got released at that time. Being in the dark is not something I’d like in the next day or two. They should fully disclose what happened in a verifiable matter so you guys can inform constituents,” says Faris Farassati.
Councilman Farassati says he’s gotten dozens of texts and emails over the last 24 hours, asking what happened with former police chief Frank Donchez.
“People are very passionate about it. Chief of police is probably more important than all of us. Chief of police is one of the most iconic things in any city, people want to know and they deserve to know,” says Farasatti.
Donchez’s sudden departure from the police chief position leaves it to be filled by Deputy Chief Simon Happer in the interim.
“The City will begin a national search for a new police chief as soon as possible,” an OP Police spokesperson said Tuesday night.
Donchez was hired as Overland Park’s police chief in 2014.
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