The KC Strip is the sirloin of Kansas City media, a critical cut of surmisin' steak that each week weighs in on the issues of the day, dictating its column to Pitch writers.

Jail Bait 

Channel 5 chums the sweeps waters.

Your meaty narrator misses Steve Chamraz.

Back when he was still in town, reporting for KCTV Channel 5, Chammy spent several days in a rented house in Independence with vigilante volunteers from Perverted-justice.com. These were guys who trolled Internet chat rooms pretending to be underage girls, talking dirty with local men who eventually knocked on the door of the Independence house, supposedly hoping to have sex. Each time, Chamraz was waiting with a camera crew.

The stunt won Channel 5 big ratings. Still, this cutlet was creeped out by the voyeuristic nature of the volunteers and had serious doubts about the way Channel 5 had manufactured the news ("Hard Sell," February 19, 2004; "Jail Baited," March 11, 2004). The Strip slapped him around for it, but Chammy knew how to make a splash during sweeps.

A few weeks ago, this observant omnivore read a Kansas City Star story about how an undercover Channel 5 operative with a hidden camera had tangled with an Independence police officer. Once again, the station had hooked up with a watchdog group, this time the Police Complaint Center, a Washington, D.C., organization that helps citizens file complaints of police misconduct.

Independence police spokesman Tom Gentry told the Star on March 31 that Channel 5's spy had bumped an officer, used naughty language and head-butted the glass partition at the front desk. A few days later, though, Gentry backpedaled, telling the Star that he was uncertain about the bump and that he hadn't seen a tape of the alleged fracas.

Channel 5 has yet to run any story. News Director Regent Ducas tells us the report is scheduled to run on Thursday, April 27. But this meddlin' meat patty couldn't wait. The Strip, having decided to do its own investigation, secured a copy of the lobby video from the Indy police.

The black-and-white footage is 36 minutes long and at times inaudible. In it, a man identified later as Gregory Slate requests a complaint form from the front desk clerk. Slate is a 23-year-old University of Maryland student and an employee of the Police Complaint Center.

The clerk refuses to give him the form, explaining that Slate needs to speak to a supervisor. So Slate waits ... and waits. Half an hour later, Slate is finally confronted by Sgt. Clayton Swatzell.

"You want to talk to me?" Swatzell asks Slate, who says something inaudible. "You don't want to talk to me?" the sergeant asks again.

Slate asks for a complaint form.

"In reference to?" Swatzell asks.

Slate won't say, so Swatzell won't give him the form. The more evasive Slate is, the more perturbed Swatzell grows.

Slate calmly keeps asking why he can't have the form. Swatzell tells him that, according to the department's policy, Slate must first talk to the on-duty supervisor, who is Swatzell. Finally, Swatzell has enough and tells Slate he's being disruptive.

"I'm not being disruptive," Slate protests. "I'm asking for a complaint form that's right there."

"I'm the one who takes that," Swatzell says, rebuffing another request. "We're done. Yeah, we're done. Just go, we're done."

"You're throwing me out?" Slate asks.

"You need to leave my lobby, yes," Swatzell says.

"Why?" Slate asks.

"Because you need to leave the lobby," Swatzell says.

"What happens if I don't?" Slate asks.

"You get arrested," Swatzell warns him.

"For what?" Slate asks.

"Disrupting the public. Disorderly conduct," Swatzell says.

"For asking for a complaint form?" Slate asks.

It goes on like this until Swatzell comes through the door, grabs Slate's right arm and bends it behind Slate's back like a chicken wing.

Swatzell pushes him toward the desk to handcuff him. Slate's head hits the glass partition.

Slate starts wailing a combination of obscenities and complaints such as "My head! My head!"

"I don't know what you think, but this is not a playground," Swatzell tells Slate as he searches him.

"Man, my arm hurts, man," Slate says. "Why did you slam my head into that window, man?"

"I didn't slam your head into the window," Swatzell says.

"You did.... Look at my head print, man," Slate says.

When the incident's over, Slate's head is busted open, and the wound needs medical attention.

And Channel 5 appears to have a story.

The Strip gave the tape the Zapruder treatment — slow mo, rewind, slow mo — but couldn't tell whether Slate had rammed the partition himself, as Swatzell claims, or Swatzell had shoved him into it, as Slate claims.

Slate's boss, Diop Kamau, a retired Los Angeles police detective who is executive director of the Police Complaint Center, says the Indy PD was the only department in Missouri and Kansas to hassle Slate.

The Strip dropped by the station to pick up a copy of the policy, which gives potential complainants four options: Contact an on-duty supervisor; request a form from the police-service desk; contact the professional standards unit commander; or contact the chief's office. So this puzzled porterhouse doesn't understand why the cops had such a hard time forking over the form.

But just as the Strip had grown suspicious of the voyeuristic Internet trollers over at Perverted-justice.com, it was weirded out the more it listened to Kamau's spiel.

"Right now we're waiting to see just how stupid the administration of this department is going to act," Kamau says. "I'm going to wait and see. Are they going to prosecute him [Slate] for the little Lindbergh kidnapping? We don't know if they're going to tie this to 9/11. Right now, they've shown me some real erratic signs of judgment. So I'm going to see just what they do, and if they tie him to the Hoffa murder, then I'll know that I have to take some action."

Uh, right.

At least with Chammy, the Strip could look forward to a little sex during sweeps. This time, the Strip will probably just watch The Daily Show at 10 on Thursday.

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