WICHITA, Kan. — A former police officer who worked for two decades in law enforcement in Kansas did so despite a 1995 conviction for domestic violence — a record that under state law should have disqualified him from wearing a badge.
The Kansas Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training on Tuesday revoked the law enforcement certificate of former Marion police officer Michael A. Stone after a complaint was filed by a local blogger citing his domestic violence conviction. His last day on the job was Aug. 5.
The commission said its decision was based on the Kansas Law Enforcement and Training Act, which prohibits anyone convicted of domestic violence from becoming a law enforcement officer, regardless of whether the conviction is subsequently dismissed or expunged. It did not address whether Stone can legally possess a gun.
Stone had previously worked as a corrections officer at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, as a Butler County Sheriff’s Office deputy and as police chief in Florence.
Stone did not respond to a Facebook message Thursday seeking comment, but has told The Associated Press in an earlier Facebook message that he wants to “move on from this.”
Under state law, an agency head cannot knowingly employ someone who does not meet minimum standards to become an officer, Commission counsel Michelle Meier said.
“We are not going to dictate how an agency should handle a particular scenario and what they do and when they do it,” Meier said. “We are only concerned with violations of the training act.”
Questions linger as to how the 44-year-old Stone managed to remain employed for so long before he was finally stripped of his law enforcement certification.
Court records show that Stone was found guilty in California of a domestic violence charge and sentenced to two days in jail, three years of probation and ordered to enroll in family violence counseling.
In 1997, he phoned the court saying he needed something so he could carry a weapon since that was the only thing keeping him from working as a correctional officer, court records show. The court granted a defense motion to dismiss the California case, but the complaint filed by blogger Lee White, who publishes the “Butler County Watchdog,” contended the dismissal did not allow Stone to become a law enforcement officer in Kansas.
Stone was hired by former Butler County Sheriff Stan Cox in 2001 and his employment as a patrol deputy continued until 2010 under former sheriff Craig Murphy. Neither Cox nor Murphy could be reached for comment.
Stone was still a deputy when his third wife, Rebecca, died in June 2003 at their Augusta home from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound from Stone’s service weapon. Her death was ruled a suicide, but in the course of that investigation the Augusta Department of Safety discovered Stone’s California conviction. A copy of the California police report and related court file was included in the investigative file that was obtained from the Augusta police department by the AP in an open records request.
Augusta Police Chief Tyler Brewer said that state law at the time made it confusing as to whether that 1995 conviction precluded Stone’s certification as a law enforcement officer, and that Capt. Bruce Relph informed the sheriff’s office as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, of Stone’s conviction.
“We took it upon ourselves to notify his employer, just to make sure nothing had slipped through the cracks,” Relph said. “And they could take any action that they wanted.”
In 2006, his first wife Misty Stone, by then divorced, filed a protection from abuse petition against Stone in Kansas. Her case was dismissed when she failed to show up at a hearing, court records show.
Stone continued working at the sheriff’s office until 2010, when he left to take a job in Florence as police chief. In 2012, Stone took a job at the Marion police department where he was the K-9 handler. Neither of those employers, nor the ATF, returned messages seeking comment.