TOPEKA — Former Topeka police chief Ed Klumpp is convinced hundreds of Kansas corrections employees and court service officers must be covered by the same privacy-protection blanket offered judges and attorneys.
Klumpp, who represents three law enforcement organizations in Kansas, said state statue ought to be amended to extend prohibitions on release of information about home ownership and home addresses to a larger category of public employees, including state and local corrections officers, who work with offenders.
“Corrections personnel are at just as much risk as commissioned law enforcement officers for bodily harm and threats,” Klumpp said. “Corrections personnel are around inmates for their entire shift. Not just the time it takes to work the call, arrest and book the individual.”
The reform measure was introduced by Klumpp on behalf of the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association.
Under existing state law, the Kansas Open Records Act shields release of residential information about federal, state and local judges, and state and municipal attorneys.
The Senate-passed bill under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee would allow state and local correctional officers, local parole, probation and court services officers, judicial branch employees and municipal court staff to request concealment of identifying information on public websites.
Deborah Barnes, an attorney with the League of Kansas Municipalities, said the organization endorsed the additional exemption to KORA. She said said current law and the amendments in Senate Bill 331 reflected the desire of some people to violate the privacy and security of public employees.
“Unfortunately, people serving in these positions can be, worst-case scenario, at risk of bodily harm and threats for the work that they do or the targets of invasive overtures and phone calls at their homes by persons going through court processes,” Barnes said.
Judicial branch employees are contacted at home by criminal defendants trying to register complaints about police, prosecutors and judges, said Krisena Silva, a district court specialist with the Office of Judicial Administration.
Silva said the bill was necessary to deter people incarcerated in prisons operated by the Kansas Department of Corrections who reach out to judicial branch employees to outline wrongful convictions.