Forum discusses the future of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department

A meeting was held Wednesday to talk about the future of the Kansas City Police Department. Issues such as funding, control, and accountability were the focus of the discussion. The five panel members, with wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences, disagree on just about everything except one area, local police control has advantages. “Members of the police board other than the mayor are not elected and so you can’t complain to them at the ballot box as you would for any other office,” said Dave Helling, a reporter for the Kansas City Star. “They are accountable only to the governor. They behave as if they are only accountable to the governor,” said Gwen Grant, president of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.One former board member said there’s really no control. It’s up to each of the four appointees’ own opinions. “The Board of Police Commissioners is not controlled by anyone from Jefferson City,” said Karl Zobrist, an attorney and former police board member. American Public Square at Jewell hosted the discussion at the Country Club Christian Church.Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the current system established in 1939 is outdated. “We’ve got to work together to address violent crime long term. You’ve seen a board where the walls have gotten higher and higher, away from having true public input in terms of how we address issues in the future, “Lucas said.While the police union president said there is value in the current system, he said officers would benefit financially from local control.” I’d benefit a lot but technically as a police department, technically, we do benefit probably a little more greatly by having that division, “said Brad Lemon, president of the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police.Lemon said he cred its the mayor and the police board for this year’s budget consensus. He said that in 30 years, this is the first budget where all parties came to an agreement on how the budget should be spent.

A meeting was held Wednesday to talk about the future of the Kansas City Police Department.

Issues such as funding, control, and accountability were the focus of the discussion.

The five panel members, with wide-ranging backgrounds and experiences, disagree on just about everything except one area, local police control has advantages.

“Members of the police board other than the mayor are not elected and so you can’t complain to them at the ballot box as you would for any other office,” said Dave Helling, a reporter for the Kansas City Star.

“They are accountable only to the governor. They behave as if they are only accountable to the governor,” said Gwen Grant, president of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City.

One former board member said there’s really no control. It’s up to each of the four appointees’ own opinions.

“The Board of Police Commissioners is not controlled by anyone from Jefferson City,” said Karl Zobrist, an attorney and former police board member.

American Public Square at Jewell hosted the discussion at the Country Club Christian Church.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the current system established in 1939 has been updated.

“We’ve got to work together to address violent crime long term. You’ve seen a board where the walls have gotten higher and higher, away from having true public input in terms of how we address issues in the future,” Lucas said.

While the police union president said there is value in the current system, he said officers would benefit financially from local control.

“In the labor world, I’d benefit a lot but technically as a police department, technically, we do benefit probably a little more greatly by having that division,” said Brad Lemon, president of the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police.

Lemon said he credits the mayor and the police board for this year’s budget consensus. He said that in 30 years, this is the first budget where all parties came to an agreement on how the budget should be spent.

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