Use of search warrant in Unified Government investigation is bold and rare

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 5:30 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - A Missouri attorney who served as a federal prosecutor and judge says the search warrant served in the Unified Government is likely connected to a criminal investigation.

The KBI sent out a news release Wednesday, saying only that they executed a search warrant and explaining it “relates to an ongoing investigation into allegations made against certain personnel of the Unified Government.”

The handling of the case is an indication that it is significant.

“The fact that they used a search warrant as opposed to a subpoena tells me that the investigators, the prosecution, is looking for an element of stealth,” said John Davis, a former federal prosecutor in Missouri. “If you’re issued a grand jury subpoena to produce documents, you probably have 30 or 60 days to gather those documents. If there’s a danger of the documents being destroyed, then a search warrant is much more preferred because it’s a surprise. They’re secret.”

It’s an action that is unusual.

“In my 32 years of experience, I honestly can’t tell you if I have a memory of a government office being searched via search warrant,” said Davis. “This isn’t something that happens lightly with the judge saying, ‘Go ahead, search a government agency.’”

Lora McDonald, an activist with MORE2, agrees the use of a search warrant is significant.

“That seems to indicate . . . that they think there’s some level of impropriety that would be covered up if they didn’t just go in there and ask for the documents,” said McDonald.

McDonald has spent years calling for a Department of Justice investigation connected to allegations of police corruption. And, while the KBI executed the warrant, other agencies could be involved in an investigation.

“We’re glad that somebody from outside is paying attention to something that’s going on in there,” said McDonald. “We hope that it uncovers the level of corruption that we know has existed in that government for decades now.”

The media release sent by the KBI doesn’t reveal the target in the investigation. However, community leaders are asking for transparency.

“The corruption in is spread so wide that it could really, literally come from anywhere,” said Khadijah Hardaway with Justice for Wyandotte. “I think you can keep the investigation intact and give the community enough information that they can feel that they are on the right track and there is hope for justice.”

Investigators say the mayor’s office and the county administrator’s office are cooperating with the investigation.

Previous coverage:

KBI executes search warrant at Wyandotte Unified Government following ‘allegations’