Former OP Police Chief says he wasn’t forced to resign from job
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) - In an interview with the Washington Post, former Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez said he was not forced to resign from his job.
“Absolutely. I resigned,” Donchez told the Washington Post. “I’ve got a lot of things going on back home in Pennsylvania and that is drawing me back home, to be with family. My conversation [with Albers] was my conversation. Obviously, we haven’t seen eye to eye for five-and-a-half years. I guess I didn’t expect that was going to change anytime ever.”
The City of Overland Park announced his resignation suddenly Tuesday night. On Wednesday, an email exchange between the now-former chief and Sheila Albers, the mother of John Albers, a teenager who was shot and killed by an Overland Park Police Department officer in January 2018, was released.
In it, Albers shared with two City leaders an interaction she had with Donchez while attending the City Council meeting on Monday night.
“I attended a portion of the city council meeting this evening,” Albers wrote to the City leaders in an email sent Monday night at 10:53 p.m. “My intent was just to sit in the back and listen.”
Sheila said that she was approached by Donchez in an attempt to engage in dialogue about the 30x30 initiative -- an initiative that aims to advance women in policing by 30 percent by 2030.
“He shook my hand and he started by telling me he was trying,” the email continued. “I told him he needed to try harder. He replied by (talking) about how badly police have been bashed over the last few years and how difficult it is to recruit. I told (him) the same goes for teaching and nursing.”
Sheila cited a 2019 interview Donchez conducted that led her to see the now-former Overland Park Police Chief as untrustworthy. A reporter in the interview asked Donchez if Officer Clayton Jenison had been reprimanded or encouraged to leave.
According to Sheila, Donchez said Jenison “left too soon before those discussions could occur,” something her review of a 2020 severance payment revealed to be incorrect.
“I pushed Donchez hard on the lies he told in that interview and his response was asking me if I have ever lied before,” Sheila, a former Blue Valley School District principal, wrote in the Monday email. “I told him I have not lied in a professional setting like that.
“He then said, ‘I am sure you and Steve tell everyone you were the best parents. I read the OISIT report.’ I replied with, ‘John struggled with his mental health.’ Donchez replied, ‘And you left him at his time of need.’
You can read the full email from Sheila Albers to the City of Overland Park here.
Reached by KCTV on Wednesday afternoon, Sheila Albers said she had no idea the email would lead to his termination.
“There have been more significant issues than former Chief Donchez’s unprofessional comments,” she told KCTV while also urging OPPD to hire a forward-thinking Chief of Police.
“It is important for the community to continue to hold government accountable,” Sheila said. “Over the past year-and-a-half, Overland Park has made strides in becoming more transparent and responsive to its citizens. Now, it has the opportunity to elevate trust at the top of law enforcement by hiring a forward-thinking Chief of Police. Public safety has and will continue to be a hallmark of our community. I have trust in our current leadership that Overland Park will be an even stronger and healthier community in the years to come.”
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