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Residents tire of 'backpedaling' on chief

“It’s a bad day for the city of Marion”

Staff writer

Despite ever more insistent calls for police chief Gideon Cody to be suspended or fired, Marion Mayor David Mayfield still refuses to consider doing so.

Residents have called for Cody to be suspended since raids Aug. 11 on the Marion County Record office, the home of its owners, and the home of Vice Mayor Ruth Herbel.

City council members agreed two weeks ago to put a discussion of Cody on Monday’s agenda. On Friday, city administrator Brogan Jones told Herbel that the discussion she had proposed would not be on the agenda.

At Monday’s meeting, Herbel called to amend the agenda to have the planned discussion, but was gunned down by council members Zach Collett, Kevin Burkholder, and Mayfield. Council member Jerry Kline voted in favor of the discussion.

Mayfield said, not for the first time, that a lawyer hired by the city’s insurance company had said she did not want the discussion to take place.

His words contradicted those of city attorney Brian Bina, who said Friday it was his own decision to recommend against having the discussion and that although he had reached out to the insurance company lawyer, there had been no response from her.

Collett told Herbel: “You’re not concerned that the city attorney advises against that?”

She noted that Bina had said the council could go ahead and didn’t need to involve him.

Residents took to the lectern during public comments afterward to voice their frustration over Cody not being suspended.

Ryan Newell, estranged husband of restaurant owner Kari Newell, whose record of not having had a valid driver’s license for more than a decade sparked the raids, questioned council members about a fourth raid that supposedly was rejected.

“Mayor David Mayfield needs to answer how he knew about the fourth warrant and whey they won’t produce the fourth warrant that was not signed by the judge,” Newell said.

Newell reminded Mayfield of a previous hiring choice that resulted in the city having to fire an administrator and pay several months’ salary afterward.

“Next, why as the mayor, and having a law enforcement background, did you not take the warning from your city administrator or even use the common sense to make sure that all the Ts were crossed and Is dotted so as to not burden the taxpayers as this has?” Newell said.

Newell was far from done. Reading from a list of questions he provided to council members, he referred to Mayfield receiving an email about the situation and said Mayfield “needs to answer why he said that he didn’t talk to the chief until the 8th but it is proven that he spoke to him on the 4th and received the email on the 4th.”

“Why was part-time officer Chris Mercer on the raid in the capacity of his full-time job and not as his part-time Marion PD position?” Newell continued. “Why was another agency (State Fire Marshal’s Office) brought in for this raid without proper investigation or information given to said agency?”

Newell turned his attention to the search of Herbel’s home.

“Why did the search warrant for Ruth Herbel read ‘identity theft and computer crimes,’ but the affidavit filed with the court says ‘identity theft and official misconduct?’” he asked. “Not only does the council have the authority to suspend the chief but they have the duty and obligation to uphold the constitution of the United States and State of Kansas, especially you, mayor, as you are a sworn law enforcement officer.”

Resident Darvin Markley also had choice words for Mayfield about Cody.

“I still don’t understand why he has not been suspended,” Markley said. “That does not admit guilt to be suspended.”

Markley has a police scanner and knows how often Cody is, and is not, at work, he said.

“You need to step up and do something with this issue,” Markey said. “It’s not going to get better until it’s resolved.”

Resident Pam Maag questioned Mayfield’s claim not to know what the police could have done wrong regarding Kari Newell’s driving record.

“No one bothered to talk to the person who gave it to the paper,” Maag said. “You keep backpedaling. It’s a bad day for the city of Marion.”

The document in question was a letter sent to Kari Newell by Kansas Department of Revenue. The letter indicated that she did not have a driver’s license after a conviction of driving under the influence years ago. She was trying to obtain a liquor license when the letter surfaced.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation took over Cody’s investigation of alleged identity theft, misuse of a computer, and official misconduct after the raid quickly brought global scrutiny and condemnation.

KBI earlier said that its investigation was limited to whether a system used only by law enforcement officials had been accessed. It was not. KBI investigators were told that two weeks ago and do not appear to have interviewed any people regarding that matter since then.

“I think there are a lot of pieces to this, and I am waiting to have certain information revealed so I can address the situation to the best of my ability,” Bina said Friday.

Bina said the council could, if it chose, suspend Cody anyway.

Mayfield also has that within his power but has opted not to do so.

“They don’t need me for that,” Bina said. “My understanding is that it was to discuss the ongoing investigation.”

Bina said his presence at any discussion was not necessary.

“If they want me to be there, that’s at their request, and if they don’t want me to be there, that’s up to the council,” he said.

For his part, Mayfield said: “I’m not doing anything until the KBI finishes their investigation. That’s what I’ve said all along.”

Record co-owner Joan Meyer died a day after six or seven officers searched her house. It is believed her death was related to the shock and stress of officers raiding her home.

Last modified Sept. 20, 2023

 

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