KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KMBC) — It was close to a year ago that KMBC 9 Investigates broke the story of multiple women suing the Kansas Highway Patrol and the state of Kansas.
All of the women have previously worked for or still work at KHP, and all claim various forms of harassment and discrimination.
One of those women is ready to tell her story and what led to her resignation.
Jarah Cooper joined the Kansas Highway Patrol in 2017.
“I really wanted to get into issues of human trafficking, so having some kind of law enforcement background to get my foot in the door and get started on things. That’s really why I wanted to become a trooper,” Cooper said.
She said she was set to attend a human trafficking training seminar, which was one of the main reasons she joined KHP, when she and her fiance, who is also a KHP trooper became pregnant.
“We found out we were pregnant at the beginning of October. We were engaged at the time so I put in a request to transfer to Manhattan and they granted it. We were thinking it would be a great thing, we’d be closer to my family,” Cooper said.
But Cooper said she didn’t feel welcome to her new troop by some top KHP officials.
“I got the feeling that they did not like me and my then fiance’s relationship,” she said.
Soon Cooper and her fiance were ordered to meet with their lieutenant to talk about their relationship.
“He tried to say it was an expectation he had for everyone, so I went further and said, ‘It really feels like it’s an expectation just for us because we’re in a relationship.’ And that’s discrimination if you’re going to look at us different or treat us different because we’re in a relationship. You have to treat us the same as everyone else. And he told me we could expect to be treated differently because we’re two troopers in a relationship,” she said.
Cooper also claims she was pulled out of the human trafficking training with no explanation other than what the lawsuit states, that because Cooper is a woman, it was a motivating factor in the defendant’s decision to subject her to wrongful and discriminatory treatment.
“So I told that to my current lieutenant that I know my spot is still there, so why can I not go? He just said, ‘Nope, sorry,'” Cooper said.
Cooper is also suing the state of Kansas because she said she feels like she was discriminated against for being pregnant.
“I tried to push it out longer because I knew this was a job I really loved. I didn’t want to quit, especially when I quit, I’m pregnant, where am I going to get a job right now?”
A spokesperson for Gov. Laura Kelly’s office provided a statement saying the governor “ordered an exhaustive and transparent examination into these allegations
that included both a Kansas Department of Administration investigation
and an independent investigation, which cleared Kansas Highway Patrol leadership of wrongdoing.”
KMBC has requested to speak with Col. Herman Jones multiple times but hasn’t received a response.
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