New 'Blue Lives Matter' Laws Raise Concerns Among Activists
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — More than a dozen states, including Kansas, have passed "Blue Lives Matter" laws this year that come down even harder on crimes against law enforcement officers. The new laws came in reaction to a spike in deadly attacks on police last year. Some civil rights activists say the measures could set back community relations with police. They fear the laws could also undermine the Black Lives Matter movement aimed at curbing the use of deadly force against black people by police. Nearly all states already have some laws enhancing penalties for violent crimes against law officers. The new measures impose even tougher punishments, extend them to additional offenses, including some nonviolent ones, and expand the list of victims covered to include off-duty officers and police relatives.
Ruling: Public Interest Weighs on Open Record Cases
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An appeals court has ruled a Kansas judge was wrong to dismiss a woman's open records request seeking police body-camera video of her son's shooting, ruling the judge could not deny it simply because it was part of a criminal investigation. The Kansas Court of Appeals on Friday sent Trina Green's case back to Wyandotte County for further hearings. The three-judge panel reversed a decision that had dismissed her case based on an exemption to the Kansas Open Records Act relating to investigatory records. The appeals court says the judge should have considered whether its release was in the public interest and law enforcement agencies would have to explain how its release would harm investigations. Green's son survived the shooting.
Kansas Man Ordered to Pay $8.4 Million Restitution
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A 71-year-old Kansas man has been sentenced to five years in federal prison and ordered to pay $8.4 million in restitution for tax evasion. David Pflum, of St. Marys, was sentenced Thursday for tax evasion and obstruction to the Internal Revenue Service. Prosecutors say Pflum claimed on Internal Revenue Service documents that he had less than $475 in assets and a monthly income of $470. Pflum, who owned Coil Springs Specialties, actually owned more than $2 million in real estate and made more than $16,000 a month. Prosecutors say he encouraged people who owed him money to ignore IRS collection efforts.
Manhattan Homicide Suspect Arrested in Wichita
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Riley County police say a man wanted in connection with a Manhattan homicide has been arrested in Wichita. Police spokesman Alexander Robinson said that 38-year-old Steven Harris was taken into custody Thursday evening. Further details about his arrest were not immediately released. Police announced earlier this week they were searching for Harris after the shooting death of 39-year-old German Gonzalez Garcia on Sunday in Manhattan. Another man was critically injured in the shooting. Authorities also said they were looking for Harris' girlfriend, 37-year-old Cora Brown. KWCH-TV reports Brown was with Harris when he surrendered Thursday after a police standoff at a Wichita hotel.
Larned Correctional to Become Medium-Security Prison
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The state plans to convert the Larned Correctional Mental Health Facility into a medium security prison for inmates between the ages of 18 and 25. The Kansas Department of Corrections announced this week that inmates housed at the proposed Larned Correctional facility would have less than three years left to serve on their sentences. The Hutchinson News reports 150 mental health inmates now at Larned would be moved to the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Corrections spokesman Todd Fertig says the changes would occur gradually, beginning by midsummer. Larned Mayor William Nusser says city officials are concerned about the loss of higher-paying jobs when the change is made. An organization representing correction officers is questioning whether officers and inmates would be safe at El Dorado, which the group says is understaffed.