Two recent investigations that looked into alleged misconduct involving Kansas Highway Patrol Superintendent Herman Jones have found those complaints to be unsubstantiated.
The internal and independent investigations were ordered by Gov. Laura Kelly’s office, according to a news release Thursday morning from the governor’s spokeswoman, Lauren Fitzgerald.
The clearing of Jones came at the same time the governor’s office announced KHP Majors Scott Harrington and Josh Kellerman are no longer employed with the agency.
The reason for the suspensions isn’t known.
"Since my appointment last year, I have prioritized building a culture and a structure within our agency that will help our troopers best serve the people of Kansas," Jones said. "I’m confident that the Kansas Highway Patrol will continue to grow stronger as an organization and improve our ability to carry out our mission."
The complaints raised regarding Jones included sexual harassment in the form of unwanted physical contact and verbal comments, misuse of a state aircraft and gender discrimination.
Three KHP employees alleged Jones greeted them by slapping their backs, shaking their hands, patting their shoulders, hugging, standing too close to the employee and occasionally making uncomfortable comments that were not of a sexual nature.
The release said investigators interviewed the employees, witnesses and Jones. The employees didn’t allege that the physical contact was that of a sexual nature, and Jones said during the interview that he wasn’t aware the interactions made employees uncomfortable and that he would avoid such contact in the future.
Investigators also looked into complaints that Jones misused a state aircraft by interviewing witnesses, obtaining flight logs and interviewing Jones.
The investigation determined that Jones used the aircraft twice — once in Spring 2019 to fly to Pratt for a funeral and then to Wichita for a graduation ceremony. He then used the aircraft in July 2019 to return early from a vacation in Colorado so that he could attend the governor’s cabinet meeting.
The release said both of these instances were conducted as state business and were appropriate uses of the plane.
"The vacation had been scheduled and paid for long before Col. Jones was appointed KHP superintendent and the governor’s cabinet meeting was mandatory for all cabinet members," the release said. "Col. Jones left his vacation several days early to return to work and none of his family accompanied him on the flight."
Investigators looked into a third complaint regarding gender discrimination and after interviewing Jones, witnesses and the complainant, found Jones’ actions weren’t motivated by gender discrimination, but were consistent with KHP policy and accountability priorities.
The release said the employee initially didn’t think Jones’ actions were motivated by gender discrimination, but went to Human Resources after speaking with a coworker who suggested an action may have been the result of gender bias.