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11-28-12


COMPLAINT ABOUT POLICE FILED  
Woman alleges police favoritism in neighborhood incidents along Myers Drive in Platte City  

by Valerie Verkamp
Landmark reporter

Darryl and Susan Peck of Platte City say they have filed numerous complaints over the past two years alleging that motorists along Myers Drive are continuously speeding and disturbing the peace in the neighborhood.

This week, Susan Peck said she has also filed a formal complaint with D.J. Gehrt, city administrator, alleging police misconduct in the situation.

Despite their complaints to the Platte City Police Department, Susan says “nothing has ever come out of it,” except, she alleges, her family being bullied by authorities for identifying the alleged reckless motorist.

Darryl and Susan Peck say they were raking leaves in their front yard when they observed a vehicle they had become familiar with over the past few years speeding down Myers Drive on March 13, 2011.

She says to warn the teenage driver--who lives in the neighborbood--of his excessive speed, Darryl “steps out into the street and starts waving his arm, telling him to slow down.” Susan said she heard the motorist “rev up his engine, honk his vehicle's horn, and swerve back and forth” before the vehicle's side mirror clipped Darryl's forearm.

“My husband has had 13 knee surgeries and was trying to get out of the way,” said Susan.

According to a police report, Kristie Grenier, who witnessed the incident, observed a vehicle “traveling down Myers Terrace at a high rate of speed” swerve and honk his horn. She also witnessed “Peck crouch down and move to his left in an attempt to get out of the way of the vehicle.”

Grenier also told authorities she was aware that there was "an ongoing problem with W. Higgins driving around the block and revving his engine when he is in front of Peck's residence.”

According to the police report: "Mr. Peck stated that (the teenage driver) always drives around the block too fast. Mr. Peck further stated that on Friday 03-11-2011, Higgins attempted to hit his step son, a report was taken, R11-00187. Mr. Peck stated that he walked out in the street on the side nearest his house, and was going to attempt to stop (the driver) and tell him to slow down.”

The motorist tells a different story. According to his statement to police, Peck "struck" his vehicle. According to the police report, the driver: “stated that his car was in neutral and he was going about 15 miles per hour. He stated that he began swerving from side to side and honking at Mr. Peck. He stated that Mr. Peck was in the middle of the road. (The driver) also stated that as he went by Mr. Peck struck his mirror in a downward motion.”

Following an investigation conducted by the Platte City Police Department, Darryl Peck was cited for impeding the right of way on a public street, and was charged with disturbing the peace and was taken into custody, said Peck.

According to the incident report, when officers (Joshua Hubbell and Robert Newman) responded to the driver's residence to investigate the incident, they "observed the right mirror of the vehicle to be pushed down instead of back. It is common when a vehicle's mirror is struck in an accident for the mirror to be pushed back. This would indicate the vehicle’s mirror was struck from above.”

Susan alleges that her husband was issued a ticket rather than the speeder because, she says, a member of Police Chief Carl Mitchell's family has close ties with the motorist and his family.

“He (Darryl) wasn't in the middle of the street,” exclaimed Susan. “The boy had plenty of space to go by. My husband went to jail because Chief Mitchell has a problem with us,” said Susan.

She said she believes authorities turn the other cheek to much of the situation because “Chief Mitchell’s son hangs out there” at the home of the teenage driver.

“They told us because of our issues with the neighbors we needed to put up video cameras and acquire our own hard evidence,” Susan Peck said.

Susan says seven witnesses have observed the neighbors speeding down Myers Drive. She believes those eyewitness accounts should be enough evidence for police to issue more citations.

“We have been told people are going to start being ticketed, but there's been one ticket issued and the boy got six months probation out of it,” said Susan.

On Nov. 14, 2011, Susan filed an order of protection against the young motorist. Susan said she has struggled with having the order of protection enforced.

"It has taken the police 6½ weeks to do a proper police report with all of the information and with the witnesses' information,” she said.

“If this is how the city enforces an order of protection I think that is pretty sad.”

Susan has been told that the officer who initially took her report has been placed on administrative leave for not entirely taking down her statement or the witnesses' statements.

“The officer came in four days later, while still on administrative leave, and did a supplemental report.”

Susan said the order of protection expired Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, but she still fears for her safety as well as the 10 or so children that play near Myers Drive.

In what she says was an attempt for the situation to be taken more seriously, Susan spoke out at the public safety sub-committee meeting in October, hoping to raise additional community awareness about motorists exceeding the 25 mile an hour speed limit on Myers Drive.

“I feel like I have been stalked in my own home by Chief Mitchell. We have police in this town to patrol the neighborhoods, but from May of this year until I went to the city council meeting in October I have counted numerous times where I have seen Chief Mitchell in his personal car, (and) in his wife's mini van, driving past my house. That creeps me out.

“Why aren't your officers doing their job? Why must you drive past my house a couple of times a week?” she said.

As of press time, Mitchell had not responded to The Landmark’s attempts for his comments on Peck’s complaints.

Susan says she won't feel a sense of security until something changes.

“I think it's time for him (the chief) to go and I think we need someone in here that is going to be more community-friendly and follow the laws that need to be followed with no bias, ” she added.

MONDAY NIGHT MEETING
SET ON POLICE MATTERS
Peck’s accusations come to public light as the police department in general and the chief in particular are facing scrutiny about other topics, including the recent placement of a surveillance camera on private property without a warrant or permission of the property owner. The camera was aimed into the back yard of Stephanie Santos.

The city’s public safety subcommittee featuring aldermen Ron Stone, Tony Paolillo and Debbie Kirkpatrick will hold a meeting Monday night at City Hall at which all of these matters could be addressed. That meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

Gehrt has said he will have his “full report” on the surveillance camera incident ready for the subcommittee to review on Monday night.