Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners considers legal action against city

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A 3-1 vote sent the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners into possible exploration of legal action against the Kansas City Council this week. // Image courtesy of Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners

The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners voted Monday to begin exploring the process of taking legal action and filing a lawsuit against the Kansas City Council.

This follows last week’s announcement of a decrease in funding toward the city’s police department down to 20% of the city’s general fund—the state of Missouri’s legal minimum. The board is reportedly forming a subcommittee with attorneys and board members Nathan Garrett and Cathy Dean to seek legal options and assess the board’s rights.

Both of the votes for these decisions occurred during a closed meeting, which was not given proper public notice and was met with objection from several local news outlets including the Star. The meeting took place via telephone, with the exception of Mayor Quinton Lucas who attended in person and opposed the closed session. Lucas, who serves on the board, voted against both measures and was the only one to do so.

The introduction of the ordinances that would make this change in funding possible passed last week in a rare manner of same-day adoption by the Kansas City Council, closely following the mayor’s announcement of their introduction. Police chief Rick Smith voiced surprise and disappointment about them, claiming that they hadn’t been discussed at any previous board meetings. This makes Monday’s closed session vote their first mention during a meeting, although the meeting’s minutes don’t directly mention the change in funding.

Lucas calls the measures taken last week a step toward making the local taxpayer’s voice is heard when it comes to decisions about what the city’s police department does for the community.

“I think what you saw the city council pass last week was the first time in about 80 years where the city has stepped up and said, ‘We want to take a more active role in how we keep this community safe,'” Lucas says. “I think that is lawful. I think it’s appropriate. I think it’s what the people of Kansas City have wanted time and time again.”

Categories: Politics