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11-21-12


Resident believes police
are targeting him

City's report says no evidence of it

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Steve Nash believes he is being harassed by some Platte City officials.

The fact Nash believes this was confirmed in a summary report by D.J. Gehrt, city administrator, in his report about the police department surveillance camera being placed on private property and aimed into the back yard of Nash and his daughter, Stephanie Santos, who reside in a duplex on Wallingford Drive.

Gehrt’s report says that in the early morning of Tuesday,

Oct. 30 a camouflaged digital game camera was mounted to private property facing the exterior of a duplex owned by Nash, and occupied by his daughter, Stephanie Santos, for the purpose of capturing images of feral cats and wildlife attracted to their feeding grounds on Wallingford.

The digital camera, which was hidden in a tree, was capable of taking time lapsed images of all activities occurring in the backyard where Santos says her children play and where most people would expect a certain level of privacy from government intrusion.

Until more information is released, it is unclear how long officials planned on keeping the surveillance camera in place.

The camera was discovered by Nash a few days after it was installed and was removed by authorities around 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2 after Santos contacted the Platte City Police Department regarding her concern.

Initially, Nash and Santos were uncertain who mounted the “creepy” camera, but shortly thereafter suspected it was owned by the police department in part because of the on-going dispute between city officials and Nash regarding feral cats.

City officials have taken several measures to reduce the feral cat population in Platte City.

Last December, the board of aldermen amended the ordinance concerning the feeding of feral cats, which created more regulations for the individuals that care for feral cat colonies. The amendments to the ordinance regulated how long a feral cat colony care taker permit would be issued, how many permits would be issued in each ward, how long food could be offered to feral cats, and required written permission from property owners if feral cats were fed within two hundred feet from their property line.

Nash spoke out against restrictions aimed at those who care for feral cats.

Gehrt has acknowledged a “disconnect” between the public and the city which requires action to “improve the public's trust in the police department in particular and the city in general,” but denies there is any sort of effort by city officials to harass its citizens.

“There is no evidence to support Mr. Nash's contention that there is a coordinated police effort involving most if not all of the police department to harass, bully and investigate him on (a) daily basis,” wrote Gehrt in his summary report.

He said his investigation stemming from the police department’s use of game cameras to enforce feral cat ordinances revealed no evidence to “support Nash's concern that the police department is a physical and moral threat to the safety of the community, although it is apparent that Nash sincerely believes this to be the case.”

Nash says several events over the course of this past year led him, as well as others to believe city officials are bullies.

Nash contends that Gehrt's report was created to cover the police department's actions, which he considers were in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
“I think that was a cover-up,” he said.

When asked what actions need to be taken to change his feelings toward the police department and city officials, Nash said: “Beyond question” the police chief needs to step down, along with the city administrator.

“Mostly we are going to see how things actually shake out in the next couple of weeks, especially leading up to the (public safety subcommittee) meeting coming up Dec. 3,” said Nash.