Unfair secrecy in Kansas
The Kansas City Star
Only in Kansas could a family be subjected to a terrifying and fruitless drug raid and be kept in the dark about why they were targeted.
That is fact, not hyperbole. Kansas is believed to be the only state whose statutes enable law enforcement authorities to conceal the information they use to obtain search and arrest warrants from judges. In Missouri and elsewhere, statements summing up “probable cause” of a person’s involvement of a crime are public record.
The law should have been changed years ago but politicians are unwilling to challenge law enforcement, which of course prefers secrecy. Their avoidance creates an injustice; people have a right to know why they were suspected of a crime.
That is certainly true of Robert and Adlynn Harte of Leawood. They were asleep one morning last year when Johnson County sheriff’s deputies barged into their home, ordered the husband down on the floor, terrified the couple’s two children and tore through their home in a search for non-existent marijuana plants.
The couple believes deputies focused on them because they purchased indoor gardening equipment to grow a few squash and tomato plants in their basement. That doesn’t justify a search warrant, and the sheriff’s department won’t produce other information it used to get a judge to sign the warrant.
Deputies allegedly told the family they’d been under surveillance for months, but wouldn’t say why or what the surveillance produced. That should be a source of concern for all Kansas citizens and lawmakers; police shouldn’t be put citizens under surveillance without a verifiable reason.
The Harte family deserves a public apology from the sheriff’s department. And Kansas deserves swift action from its Legislature to bring sunlight and accountability to criminal proceedings.