The 500-member association representing Kansas Highway Patrol troopers on Friday welcomed appointment of the agency's new superintendent and pledged to work collaboratively to reinforce values and ethics of the statewide law enforcement organization.
Gov. Laura Kelly, responding to an inquiry fueled at least in part by an anonymous report of misconduct at the highway patrol, announced Thursday the resignation of Col. Mark Bruce and Lt. Col. Randy Moon, the agency's two highest-ranking officers.
She appointed Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones to serve as colonel and superintendent of the state highway patrol. Jones, who begins Wednesday at KHP, had two previous stints with that agency, serving there for a total of two decades.
"It is important that our next leader realizes the unique nature and challenges our members face in protecting the citizens of the state of Kansas, and Herman Jones certainly fits that bill," said Bryan Clark, president of the Kansas State Troopers Association.
Clark said the association's members, which include KHP troopers, state motor carrier inspectors and the Capitol Police, were prepared to collaborate with Jones to guarantee "adherence to the values, ethics and professionalism for which this organization is known."
The association's statement didn't include a direct comment about the sudden departure of Bruce and Moon, who had been at the KHP since the 1980s.
Kelly placed Bruce and Moon on administrative leave, and both men submitted letters of resignation effective April 6.
The brisk transition coincided with The Topeka Capital-Journal obtaining a police report from Excelsior Springs, Mo., implicating Moon in an alleged domestic assault at a hotel in December. The Missouri agency notified KHP about the incident, the police report said. The report also said the woman involved in the incident received injuries, but the alleged assailant had fled the hotel before officers arrived.
Police in Excelsior Springs dropped the inquiry after the alleged victim later recanted statements made to investigators that an individual, believed to have been Moon, injured her during a hotel room scuffle.
Neither the KHP nor the governor's office has disclosed how KHP handled information from Missouri police about an investigation linked to Moon.
In Kansas, law enforcement officers are obligated to arrest suspected perpetrators of domestic assault. People convicted of the crime in Kansas would be forbidden to carry a firearm, which would end the career of a law enforcement officer.
Ashley All, a spokeswoman for the governor, confirmed the Kelly administration had received an anonymous letter making a series of allegations about the Kansas Highway Patrol.
"We cannot comment on these personnel issues except to say that information came to light regarding some longstanding management issues at the highway patrol and as a result it became clear new leadership was needed," All said.
She said it wasn't possible to confirm or deny whether there was an ongoing investigation of KHP personnel.
A lengthy anonymous email sent to state elected officials, state agencies, domestic violence organizations and others, and shared with The Capital-Journal, included assertions about KHP leadership favoritism, personnel problems and sexual misconduct. The document included information about Moon's alleged involvement in a December domestic assault in Missouri.