FERRELVIEW, Mo. — The Village of Ferrelview held its monthly municipal court proceedings Monday, June 6, amidst controversy surrounding police chief Daniel Clayton. Multiple residents of Platte County have expressed concern over Clayton’s actions, specifically questioning the high number of citations Clayton has filed since beginning his tenure in July of 2015 — a concern that court data The Citizen obtained may confirm.
That data suggests that since Clayton’s first filed ticket, the number of citations the Ferrelview Police Department continued to increase through last month.
In 2014, officers filed 234 citations, an average of 19.5 a month; in 2015, 428 citations were filed — an average of 35.7 tickets per month — with Clayton responsible for exactly half.
During the first five months of 2016, 282 citations have been filed — an average of 56.4 a month — with Clayton accounting for 262.
Court data also reveals that for the 11 months Clayton has been filing citations, he has reported an average of 43.3 a month. Seven out of those 11 months show positive gains in the number of tickets, both in citations filed by Clayton and in total citations filed.
For the first 11 months of Clayton’s tenure, he was responsible for 81 percent of the filed citations.
“Personally, I think that they’re technically violations,” said Dennis Rowland, a Kansas City, Mo. attorney currently representing multiple area residents currently facing fines from tickets Clayton wrote, “but look at Kansas City, look at any major metropolitan area, do you see them pulling over people for such, what I call ‘piddly things’?
“It’s technically a violation but, how many technical violations can you write before it converts to harassment?”
The drastic increase in filed citations is concerning to multiple area residents, including Robert Rowland — a resident of Lee’s Summit, Mo. and son of Dennis Rowland. Clayton ticketed Robert Rowland two months ago for failing to use a turn signal in Ferrelview during an experience he called the worst he has ever had with a law enforcement officer.
Ferrelview municipal judge Michael Svetlic dismissed the charge Monday after the Ferrelview Board of Trustees failed to respond to a discovery request, which provides 10 days for a municipality to present the evidence it possesses relevant to the filed charges.
Although Robert Rowland said he was not guilty of the traffic violation, his real concern is the number of citations Clayton writes.
Robert Rowland suggests that not every violation should result in a ticket. Instead, the former police officer and current process server says that simple violations, like a missing license plate light or expired tags, should be used as a tool to search for more criminal offenses.
“When it comes to small towns like this … it’s common to use (minor violations) to have probable cause to pull people over and then try to find something more significant,” Robert Rowland said. “If you find something more significant, you press charges; if you don’t, you give them a warning, and you let them go.”
Robert Rowland is just one of multiple area residents who met Saturday, May 10, just outside of village limits to discuss their concerns regarding the Ferrelview police chief. Dennis Rowland led the nearly 30-member meeting, which discussed ways for residents to express their concerns, specifically any questions they had with citations. He believes that Ferrelview police are filing increasingly more citations in an attempt to justify the number of officers.
The Village of Ferrelview’s website lists Clayton, deputy police chief Richard Pacheco, Sgt. George Mansfield and officers Brandon Cranmer and Kyle Fleck as employees. Compensation figures for the five employees had not been made available to the The Citizen as of deadline.
Although Dennis and Robert Rowland express concerns with the increase of citations, one Ferrelview resident believes the increase can be seen as a good sign.
“This used to be the Wild West,” says 12-year Ferrelview resident Brooks Moseley. “If the number of citations has gone up since Clayton became an officer here, it must mean that the police are actually enforcing the law.”
In recent interviews with The Citizen, Moseley suggested that the people lodging accusations against Clayton are in the minority, and that the majority of residents “just want to live their lives in peace and not cause any trouble.”
Moseley expresses concerns of his own but not with the police chief, rather with the attorney leading the discussions involving a now embattled Clayton.
“I watched (the attorney) tonight pick up three or four clients,” Moseley said at the conclusion of Ferrelview’s municipal court proceedings Monday. “I understand if he’s picking people up to pad his wallet; that’s his job.
“My concern is with him exacerbating the situation by spreading misinformation for personal gain.”
Robert Rowland has previously commented on Clayton’s conduct, pulling into question the officer’s police tenure in Randolph, Mo., although the lawyer’s judgment of Clayton’s employment in the city has been simply to claim, “He did not quit.”
Moseley’s criticism of Dennis Rowland extends to his personal connection with Robert Rowland and both of their professions.
“I have to question the involvement of his son (Robert Rowland),” Mosely said. “His son, who has personal knowledge of the people in this town, is a process server… he’s going to know about people who are upset and maybe going back telling daddy (Dennis Rowland).”
The May board of trustees meeting was the first major public display of concern regarding Clayton. The Platte County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and helped remove citizens at Clayton’s request after the proceedings started to border on out of control. Individuals present at the meeting suggest that the meeting did get out of hand, as concerned residents broke decorum to lodge complaints, resulting in a heated exchange between members of the audience and the board.
The next board of trustees meeting, slated for Tuesday, June 14, will likely be another chapter in the ongoing controversy. However, Moseley is optimistic that the next meeting will produce different results.
“I am hopeful that this meeting will allow those with concerns to express them in an orderly fashion,” Moseley said. “Maybe then we can start the process of healing.”