3 Overland Park police officers resign after investigation into false seat belt tickets

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Three Overland Park police officers have resigned after an internal investigation determined seat belt tickets were given to drivers who were actually wearing their seat belts.

The Overland Park Police Department said Wednesday that the agency initiated the investigation in mid-June when they became aware of the potential problem.

Chief Frank Donchez Jr. said it was an officer within the department that alerted them to the problem.

The department discovered the three officers were pulling people over for legitimate traffic violations, but instead of writing them tickets for those violations, the officers issued tickets for not wearing their seat belts -- even if they in fact were wearing them.

More than 200 tickets were dismissed in the city's municipal court after the investigation, he said. The chief also said they`re in the process of issuing refunds to those who paid court fees related to traffic tickets issued by the officers.

"It's absolutely unacceptable. Integrity of a police department is paramount," the chief said at a news conference Wednesday.

Donchez said the results of that investigation are a personnel matter and will not be released, but all three officers involved in the investigation resigned last week.

He said the three officers were not working together, and it's unclear why they were doing this to begin with.

The chief said the department doesn't have a quota system; however, it does receive grant money from the Kansas Department of Transportation for enforcing seat belt laws.

While a seat belt ticket is less than a speeding ticket, Donchez said these officers falsified police documents, and that simply won`t be tolerated.

“We believe this is an isolated incident," he said. "We apologize to the community for the actions of a few. This department prides itself on integrity, and the public’s trust is a priority.”

The District Attorney's Office is aware of the officers' misconduct, and it`s up to that department whether or not to charge the officers. Donchez said he doesn`t think that will happen since the three officers resigned.

Donchez spoke to reporters Wednesday afternoon. Watch the full news conference in the video player below.

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