US Senate candidate Eric Greitens on Friday posted – then deleted – a video on social media featuring a ride along with Kansas City police that was quickly criticized as inappropriately politicizing the department.
The former governor’s campaign did not obtain official approval for filming, KCPD spokeswoman Capt. Leslie Foreman said Saturday. The department requested the campaign take down his post, Foreman said, and it complied.
The video at one point showed an image of a KCPD vehicle. In one tweet, Greitens said, “Tonight, I’m riding along with @kcpolice,” according to screenshots posted by Scott Chartona Missouri-based consultant and former Associated Press reporter.
“I share the disappointment of many that the former governor of this state produced a campaign video, which included his Senate campaign logo on the video and used Kansas City Police Department logos, a squad car with lights turned on for the campaign video, and other imagery, ”Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a tweet.
It’s not clear exactly when the posts were deleted, but they began attracting attention from Charton and others shortly after they were posted late Friday. The ride along came on a day when attention was already focused on KCPD as Joe Mabin was sworn in as interim chief, replacing Rick Smith.
It also took place hours after the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Attorney General Eric Schmitt, one of the Greitens’ opponents in the Republican Senate race. KCPD and Greitens’ campaign did not answer questions Saturday about when the ride along was scheduled.
“The Kansas City Missouri Police Department is an apolitical organization and we do not promote or support political candidates,” Foreman said in an email. “All citizens are welcome and encouraged to do a ride-along, but that should not be used to promote a political position.”
Greitens resigned as governor in 2018 amid multiple scandals, including allegations that he sexually assaulted and blackmailed his former hairdresser. He has been attempting a political comeback, but his ex-wife filed an affidavit in March alleging he was abusive towards her and their children, leading to calls for him to drop out of the race. Greitens has denied the allegations.
Greitens’ campaign responded to a request for comment on Lucas’s tweet, but did not answer other questions from The Star about the ride along.
“While Governor Greitens was out with our law enforcement officers to see first-hand the challenges they face everyday, Quinton Lucas was working to defund them,” Dylan Johnson, Greitens’ campaign manager, said in a statement.
In the past, Lucas has pushed unsuccessfully for the city council to have more control over police funding – a different concept than cutting overall spending by police.
Unlike most major police departments, KCPD is governed not by the city council but by a five-member board of commissioners appointed almost entirely by the governor. The mayor also holds a seat.
Two of the current commissioners – President Mark Tolbert and Don Wagner – were appointed by Greitens.