KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A now-former attorney for the Kansas City Police Department has released a scathing letter to public, calling for the interim chief to be fired.
Former Associate General Counsel Ryan McCarty worked for the department for about six months before he said Interim Chief Joseph Mabin terminated him this week.
In an eight-page exit letter, McCarty documents multiple allegations of hostile work environment, retaliation, records violations, corruption and more.
He released the letter Saturday to the department, news outlets and members of the public. McCarty said although the letter might seem critical, his motivation is to bring “much-needed positive change.”
“It will take all of us — we the people, working together — to resuscitate the dying police department of Kansas City,” McCarty wrote.
Mayor Quinton Lucas also shared his thoughts on the situation.
“Look I’m surprised, it’s not everyday that you get a lawyer who is bound to ethical obligations say as many things as I read,” Lucas said.
Mabin and Dodge
The former KCPD attorney said the department has a favorable history, but he argued corruption, cronyism and cover-ups “have hollowed the soul of this once-great institution.”
McCarty said the agency’s reputation is now in tatters. In the letter, he said he doesn’t know the origin of the decline but has witnessed the “ongoing erosion of conviction, integrity, faith in leadership (and) morale.”
McCarty said he’s not referring to the detention and patrol officers and detectives who put their lives on the line. He’s talking about those at Kansas City police headquarters who “lord over the rest.”
Specifically, McCarty said he’s speaking about Mabin and General Counsel Holly Dodge.
McCarty said he was originally hired by former KCPD Chief Rick Smith, who retired this spring. But by the time McCarty started in June 2022, Mabin had taken over as interim chief.
“Little did I know when I was hired that I would be walking into a den of clowns and thieves,” McCarty wrote.
McCarty said, until Wednesday, he worked at headquarters on the same floor as Mabin. The former KCPD attorney said his first impression of Mabin was that he was inexperienced. But McCarty said he now believes Mabin is more sinister than inept.
FOX4 reached out to the Kansas City Police Department for its response to McCarty’s allegations. Leslie Foreman, a spokesperson for the agency, confirmed McCarty is no longer employed with KCPD.
“Any allegations made have been or will be reviewed and addressed as appropriate,” Foreman said.
First red flag
In his letter, McCarty pointed to his first Chief’s Chat, a weekly meeting of Command Staff members. McCarty said KCPD’s top brass talked about how quickly the department could destroy its emails; he alleges the group wanted to get rid of emails after 180 days.
McCarty said he waited for Dodge, his boss, to speak up but she supported the idea, despite record retention rules.
“This was the first red flag…and it was only my first week at KCPD,” McCarty wrote in his letter.
From there, McCarty said the red flags kept coming over the next six months.
“The more I spoke up, the more I was shut out,” McCarty said. “The more I expressed concern about abuses, improprieties, and illegalities, the more I was blackballed, ostracized, and shunned.”
McCarty alleges Dodge started excluding him from important meetings, discouraged him from attending Board of Police Commissioners meetings and gave him menial work.
The former KCPD attorney said with plenty of time in his office, he started documenting the alleged wrongdoings he witnessed and heard about via email.
“The public deserved to know what was going on at KCPD from the perspective of an insider at the highest level of the organization,” McCarty wrote.
McCarty’s emails are open records under Missouri’s Sunshine Law; FOX4 plans to make a records request with the Kansas City Police Department for those emails.
“It is only by coming to terms with all the problems that beset the organization that we the people, working together, can remove the rot,” McCarty wrote Saturday.
McCarty highlighted a few of his allegations against the department in his letter.
According to McCarty, 11 employees, including the entire Office of the General Counsel staff, filed an internal complaint against Dodge.
McCarty alleges that Mabin dismissed the complaint without investigation and said he assumes the interim chief never informed the police board of the complaint either.
He argues if Mabin told the board, the members were complicit in burying internal complaints. Meanwhile, if Mabin didn’t tell the board, McCarty wonders what else he’s hiding.
McCarty argued Mabin also likely didn’t consult the board before firing him, which he alleges was done in retaliation for speaking out against “a dysfunctional, hostile, and toxic work environment” in the Office of the General Counsel.
McCarty said it was just a few weeks before Christmas and his health benefits will lapse two weeks before his wife is expecting their seventh child.
The former KCPD attorney said he had no demerits for behavior or performance, instead arguing Mabin wanted to silence a whistleblower.
“It was a warning to the other 10 who spoke out against Holly Dodge,” McCarty said. “My firing was a show, a spectacle for others to witness.”
Mayor Lucas said he also wasn’t aware of McCarty’s departure from the department.
“I did not know about this gentlemen’s concerns or separation from the department but that all being said, we will make sure we fully investigate any of the claims made”
McCarty said although the internal complaint and firing might seem like a private matter, he said the fact that Mabin is allegedly concealing information from the board that the public should know about.
The ex-KCPD employee said concealment and dissimulation have become “the new DNA” of the department.
He pointed to practices in the Office of the General Counsel, particularly how Dodge handles records requests.
McCarty first provided the example of Brady and Giglio requests, which handle evidence provided to prosecutors for cases.
He said Dodge collects all the documents related to a request, then allegedly makes her own decision on what she thinks should be sent to prosecutors. McCarty noted the prosecutor should make that decision.
McCarty said he worries how many criminal cases might have to be retried due to this “wrongheaded approach.”
The former KCPD attorney said he tried to explain to his boss, but he alleges she became defensive and cut him off from any further requests.
McCarty said Dodge is also abusing Missouri’s open records laws. He alleges she is “consistently, systematically, and unlawfully closing records that should be open, thereby denying the public access to what it is entitled under the law.”
“Sunshine is the best disinfectant right, and it is a concern if we’re not sharing information that we are required by law to share”
Again, he said when he tried to explain, she became defensive and allegedly looped him out of records requests.
McCarty also pointed to treatment of others in his letter. He argues Mabin and Dodge discipline unfairly, which appears “on the surface to have some racial underpinnings,” he said.
He gave multiple examples, arguing some were allowed to quietly resign while others were “unmercifully disciplined.”
He noted a major who allowed to homeless women to shower in a patrol station and was considered for “harsh discipline,” even possible charges, McCarty said.
McCarty also pointed to now-former KCPD captain David Loar, who took former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a ride-along where the politician filmed a campaign video.
While Loar was under investigation, McCarty said Dodge “coerced” Loar to resign rather than lose his pension upon termination. A special prosecutor declined to press charges against Loar.
McCarty also highlighted a detective who was allegedly demoted and reassigned for reporting a constitutional infringement.
Last, McCarty pointed to a sergeant who dialed the wrong number and gave his partner “an earful meant for his wife.” McCarty said the man was harshly disciplined.
“Mabin has made so many bad decisions based on the bad advice given by GC Dodge that the two are now banded together, for better or worse,” he wrote.
McCarty said he believes KCPD could try to frame this as a disgruntled former employee, angry that he’s been fired. But the attorney said he’s been documenting for months.
“My motivation is sincere: The overhaul of KCPD for the common good of the community at large,” he wrote.
According to McCarty, the police department needs to see major change, some immediately and some as the new chief comes in.
The police board has narrowed its search to three candidates: one internal and two external. After holding a community forum Saturday, it’s unclear when the police board is expected to make its decision.
But McCarty believes even before a new chief is brought in, the police board can still make changes. He urged board members to look into the internal complaint against Dodge, spend more time at police headquarters and other facilities and talk to employees.
McCarty also called on the board to seek Mabin’s and Dodge’s resignations — or to terminate them.
Mayor Lucas vowed to look into these allegations.
“To me there are rules and there are laws, and it is up to us because we all swear an oath to follow them. If for some reason those rules and laws have not been followed, then we need to make sure that situation is addressed.”
“Do not saddle the new chief with his shabby baggage by keeping him on as a deputy chief,” McCarty wrote of Mabin.