Carbondale City Council
Citizens lodge complaints against officer

Grievances stem from incident after street dance

Herald-Chronicle Staff

CARBONDALE—A disturbance at a street dance in Carbondale Saturday night has resulted in complaints against one of the city’s police officers regarding the treatment of a minor involved in the incident.

Debbie Traphagen told the Carbondale City Council Monday evening that her daughter was put to the ground by a police officer and handcuffed because of pushing and shoving going on within a group of people. The council also heard from Misty Brown, who said her daughter was being pushed and punched by people in the group and had to flee to get away from the disturbance.

Carbondale City Attorney Sue DeVoe confirmed this week that officer Gregg Wallace was the subject of the council’s discussion and the subject of more than one written complaint received by the city regarding the incident.

The council took no action on a demand from an unidentified person at the meeting who requested the officer be suspended without pay. Instead, heeding the advice of DeVoe, the council approved calling in an outside law enforcement agency to conduct an independent investigation.

“We’re uncertain who is going to be investigating, but until that’s done, the city would not have any other comment,” DeVoe said Tuesday morning.

DeVoe told the council that no action should be taken until the independent investigator obtained all the facts from both sides.

“This needs to be investigated and properly conducted,” DeVoe told The Herald-Chronicle. “This involves allegations of a child victim, and the city council obviously takes this kind of situation very seriously.”

Names and addresses were taken from the persons involved in the complaint. DeVoe told the council the investigation should be conducted within the next two weeks.

The council approved council member Patty Kreshel’s motion to bring in an outside agency to investigate the incident.

In other police department discussion, the council heard a request from Wallace to purchase a new portable breath test device, used to determine a person’s blood alcohol content. The city’s testing device is no longer operational and cannot be repaired. A new device will cost $500. The council approved the purchase.

The police department also requested the council to again consider the purchase of a defibrillator, at a cost of $1,500. It was stated that the police department responds to medical calls within the city limits and at times are on the scene before first responders. An attempt has been made to work with American Medical Response to have one donated, but none have been available. Council member Lee Curtis asked if any officers were trained to use the equipment, and Wallace stated that there was. Council member Clint Vawter said that since it is close to the end of the year, the purchase should be delayed for financial reasons.

Wallace also reported on a recent arrest in the city, during which cash and nine grams of methamphetamine were confiscated. He said the county attorney could assist with forfeiture of the suspect’s vehicle to the city if the council decided to pursue it. After much discussion, it was decided too much bureaucracy would be required to obtain the vehicle.

In other discussion, the council held a meeting for the public building commission established for the purpose of constructing a swimming pool. A resolution establishing members of the commission was considered, with officers selected as follows: the mayor will be president; council president will serve as secretary; and the council seat currently held by Vawter will hold the position of treasurer. In the adoption of the commission’s by-laws, the date of an annual meeting was set for the second Monday of June. The council directed DeVoe to obtain a federal tax identification number for the commission.

The council also heard from Santa Fe Trail High School Principal Dave Swaim, who spoke about changes made at the high school to provide more activities. Approximately three years ago, students came up with the idea for homecoming week by holding a homecoming parade on Oct. 2. Previously, the school parking was used for the parade, but was determined to be too small. Students then decided to move the parade to one of the communities within Santa Fe Trail school district. Swain asked for the council’s permission to hold the parade in Carbondale. He said that at next week’s school board meeting, there will be a random drawing to see which community is first to hold the parade; in the future it will be rotated from community to community. The council approved allowing Carbondale’s name to be put in a hat for a drawing. The council also approved the purchase of school booster ads to be posted for school events.

Discussing utility issues, maintenance supervisor Kevin Richardson reported that Lan-Tel, the company contracted to install the new water line, will be in town Wednesday to complete items on the punch list. He said the fence line on the Mercer property has been repaired, but he has found another fence on the Decker property that needs repair. Richardson will report this to the company for repair.

The council also heard from Larry Hinck who reported he had met with a Westar representative in charge of moving power lines along Hinck’s commercial property. He said Westar would move the lines free of charge. He said Dollar General Store is looking at a spring 2009 start date.

DeVoe reported she had reviewed the contract submitted by Kramer Engineering for installing the sewer line along Hinck’s property and said it appeared to be a standard contract. The cost submitted is approximately $30,000. The council questioned if the city should pursue another bid. After much discussion, the contract with Kramer Engineering was approved.

In other business, the council:

• reviewed a lease contract submitted by Crossroads Wireless for installation of a wireless communications antenna on the city’s water tower. Council members agreed the amount the city was to receive in the contract was too low. The council plans to negotiate with the company, but expressed the city remains interested in having the antenna installed.

• discussed a homeless person within the city who is using public facilities. DeVoe reported that the city does not have a loitering ordinance. No action was taken.

• approved renewal of a license for Southside Liquor.