O.C.C Office Staff
Merrell R. Bennekin, J.D., CPM
Merrell R. Bennekin is the Executive Director of the Board of Police Commissioners’ Office of Community Complaints in Kansas City, Missouri. In this role he is responsible for the daily agency operations and facilitation of investigations into allegations of misconduct against members of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department.
Merrell is also a Missouri Peace Officer Standards Training (P.O.S.T.) instructor at the Regional Police Academy in the areas of Mediation, Conflict De-escalation, and Interpersonal Communications. Since 2008 he has worked as an Adjunct Professor, providing instruction in the area of Criminal Justice at the Metropolitan Community College – Penn Valley and Maple Woods campuses.
Merrell, a native of Eatonton, Georgia, received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Morehouse College in 1998, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2001. Merrell also completed the University of Kansas Certified Public Manager Program in 2010. Mr. Bennekin is a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) Finance Committee. He is also a member of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, and formally served as presiding chair of the Metropolitan Community Service Program.
Merrell is a 2007 graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Development Program, and is a board member of the Greater Kansas City Guide Right Foundation. He is currently the co-director of Guide Right and Kappa League for the Kansas City (MO) Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Senior Legal Analyst
Johnnie Ann Crawford
Senior Legal Analyst Johnnie Ann Crawford is the senior-most staff member of the Office of Community Complaints, having served for over 27+ years and under three executive directors and five mayors. She began her career in criminal justice as a Control Room Supervisor and Administrative Unit Supervisor for Family Court, formally the Jackson County Juvenile Court, serving from 1977 – 1984. She later worked as a Production Scheduler with Allied Signal (formerly Bendix Corp.) before returning to the criminal justice field in 1993 as an OCC analyst. She later moved into the Senior Legal Analyst role under the direction of former Executive Director I. Pearl Fain.
Ms. Crawford is passionate about giving community members and citizens both the space and opportunity to voice their concerns and address their grievances whenever they feel they have been harmed or wronged by members of the Kansas City, Missouri police department – whether civilian or law enforcement in nature. She is motivated by fact-finding and is ambitious in her pursuit of fairness.
Ms. Crawford is a member of National Association of Civilian Oversight in Law Enforcement (NACOLE), a member for the local chapter of Blacks in Government (BIG), and an active member of the Central High School Alumni Association. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice from Avila University, and currently resides on Kansas City’s East Side with her family and two dogs.
Legal Analyst Diane Mozzicato is a former law enforcement officer with the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department (KCPD) with over 30 years of experience in law and order, public service, law enforcement training and policy development, and implementing principled police activities. During her career with the KCPD, she served as a Field Training Officer, an Academy Instructor, an Internal Affairs Investigator and Supervisor, and a Supervisor and Commander in the Research and Development Unit that oversaw the development and revisions of the department’s policies and procedures.
Ms. Mozzicato is a member of National Association of Civilian Oversight (NACOLE), a former Fellow of the FBI Executive Fellowship, a graduate of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) Senior Management Institute for Police, a graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Centurions Leadership Program, and a former participant of Big Brothers and Big Sisters. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Washburn University of Topeka, Kansas.
Tiara Whatley is a Legal Analyst in the Office of Community Complaints. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, minoring in Criminal Justice from Central State University located in Wilberforce, Ohio, in 2017. Following this, Tiara acquired a Master of Science degree in Forensic Science, specializing in Forensic Investigations, from Bowling Green State University in 2018. She gained much knowledge in understanding laws, criminal justice policies and procedures, forensic investigations, and health and human services. During Tiara’s academic career, she was involved in many extracurriculars. She held many professional memberships, such as Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honor Society and Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology. Tiara is a motivated individual with an eye for detail that has shown throughout her career.
Tiara has a background in analytical work from forensic/medical laboratory facilities. She also completed training in criminal investigations in 2020. She’s passionate about science, mental health, law, and assisting others. Tiara wants to continue applying science to the judiciary system and ongoing issues in society. She is a native of Dayton, Ohio. Tiara is eager to work in the Office of Community Complaints and serve the Kansas City metropolitan area. In her spare time, Tiara enjoys cooking, the arts, and volunteering with her sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated.
Senior Legal Analyst
Karen U. Williams, CPO, MPA
Karen Williams is a Senior Legal Analyst in the Office of Community Complaints. Ms. Williams is tasked with the intake, analysis, and reporting of complaints, as well as compilation of the Annual Report and other statistical reports. She also teaches classes to community members, members of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, and police officer candidates on the complaint process, ways to reduce complaints, and responsible interaction with the police, and assists with the very active internship program. Since 2001, Ms. Williams has reviewed hundreds of complaint files and has handled numerous Sunshine Law requests, as well as spoken at several conferences regarding oversight of law enforcement.
Ms. Williams served for eight years on the Board of Directors for the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), the nation’s largest and premier police oversight organization, representing over 1,000 oversight practitioners. In her spare time, Karen is an active volunteer for NACOLE, a member of the Volunteer Corps for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Twelfth Street Heritage Development Corporation as well as her homeowner’s association.
Ms. Williams has a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. She graduated with distinction from Park University in Parkville, Missouri with a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in Nonprofit and Community Services Management.
Ora Rogers is the Office Coordinator of the Office of Community Complaints (2011-present), providing support to the Executive Director. In her role, she coordinates training, handles customer service inquiries, schedules and monitors progress of work assigned to staff, and provides supervision for clerical staff. She graduated with honors in 2016 with a Bachelor of Public Administration degree from Park University in Parkville, Missouri. Ora has provided volunteer services locally with the Lead to Read Program in Kansas City-area urban schools.
Previously, Ora worked as an Administrative Assistant (2002-2011) for the Private Officers Licensing Unit of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, licensing officers in the private security industry. In her free time Ora enjoys reading non-fiction books, cooking, spending time with her family and their 13 year old Pekingese dog Ace, and keeping up with her favorite television shows. Her side hustle is being a seller (and buyer) on Poshmark.