Garner stated the new position hours after FBI agents arrested former police detective Roger Golubski, who had long been accused of corruption and raping vulnerable Black women.
Asked about the position Thursday after a meeting at City Hall, Garner said he would not request that the U.S. Department of Justice look into the police department he worked at for over three decades unless local police or the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office ask him to.
Garner said he came to that position after consulting with leaders at both agencies and the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office.
“If their recommendation is that that needs to be a step that needs to be taken, then I would definitely stand with them,” Garner said.
The position marks a 180-degree change from what Garner said publicly throughout his mayoral campaign. In July 2021, speaking about the decades of corruption allegations centering on Golubski, Garner told The Star’s Editorial Board that he would “take the bold step and go to D.C. and meet and have the Justice Department come in here.”
He also accused former Mayor David Alvey of dragging his feet regarding a federal investigation into the police department.
Marcus Winn, a leader with MORE2, a local social justice organization which has repeatedly called for a Department of Justice investigation into the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department, asked who Garner thinks is in charge in Wyandotte County.
“It sounds like he’s still taking orders from the police department,” Winn said in a text message.
Garner’s campaign statements
Golubski, 69, was indicted Wednesday on six federal counts of deprivation of civil rights for allegedly sexually assaulting two women multiple times from 1998 to 2002.
FBI agents arrested him Thursday morning at his home in Edwardsville.
Golubski retired in 2010 from the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department as a captain after 35 years on the force. After leaving KCK, and collecting his pension, he went to the Edwardsville Police Department, where he worked as a detective until 2016.
Egregious accusations against Golubski came to light in the exoneration of Lamonte McIntyre, who was freed in 2017 after serving 23 years for a double homicide he did not commit. A lawsuit he filed accused Golubski of not only using his position to sexually abuse Black women, but of framing innocent people for crimes committed by others, including drug dealers who paid him.
The allegations against Golubski raised questions about corruption in the police department. Golubksi’s former partner, Terry Ziegler, went on to serve as police chief from 2014 to 2019. Ziegler previously told CNN that even though he was Golubski’s partner from 1999 to 2002, which overlaps with the crimes Golubski is accused of, he did not know of the accusations against him.
Garner, who worked from the police department from 1987 to June 2019, retiring as a deputy chief, has repeatedly denied that he knew of the allegations against Golubski.
When Garner spoke to The Star’s Editorial Board in July 2021, he said if elected he would fly to Washington, D.C., and personally ask for an investigation.
“A Mayor Tyrone Garner, would, he said, “go to the Justice Department and say please come in here, we’re going to give you all the resources, the information and whatever we have to do an investigation.”
At an October 2021 debate, Garner accused of Alvey of not acting when it came to calling for an investigation into the police department.
“There was a concentrated effort from day one to stop any independent investigations to come into Wyandotte County,” Garner said on Oct. 21, 2021 at Memorial Hall. “This mayor dragged his feet in that regard.”
A new position
Now that Golubski has been indicted, Winn, the MORE2 activist, said it is the “perfect time” for Garner to fulfill his campaign promise of flying to Washington D.C. and asking for a broader investigation.
“It’s very clear that there are patterns and practices and many folks continue to feel threatened,” he said.
But in the more than nine months Garner has been mayor, he has changed his message. No longer calling specifically for a federal investigation, he has instead said he welcomes “any outside investigation.”
And then Thursday, Garner’s message changed again as he deferred to the authority of local law enforcement.
“After talking and consulting with the law enforcement community here, if that’s something where I need to stand with them in that regard, I’m going to follow their lead because they’re the law enforcement professionals, not me,” Garner said.
When asked if Golubski’s indictment signals that there needs to be a broad federal investigation into the police department, he said, “I think that answer already speaks for itself.”
“Well, if you look at it and you talk to the law enforcement community, I think they can answer that question a lot more directly than I could,” Garner said.
Winn said he was disappointed by Garner’s answers.
“He has the moral responsibility,” Winn said. “He’s in charge.”
At Golubski’s first court appearance at a federal courthouse in Topeka Thursday afternoon, he pleaded not guilty.
A detention hearing was set for Monday afternoon. It meant Golubski would remain over the weekend in custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.