Last Board of Police Commissioners Meeting of 2020 sees all measures approved

Andrei Stoica

12/8/2020- Kansas City, Missouri

File photo of Mayor Lucas at a BOPC meeting

Photo by Andrei Stoica

The last BOPC meeting for 2020 saw all measures pass before the board. The agenda was budget-related, ahead of the January 2021 collective bargaining agreement negotiations, including between the FOP and the city.

The board approved a general fund transfer, including Clay County COVID relief funds to finalize purchases before December 31, and two adjustments to special revenue accounts ahead of possible budget cuts. They also moved to accept a $900,000 donation from the Kansas City Police Foundation for the body camera initiative. KCPD announced in June that they had received enough donations to begin to implement body cameras. Kansas City also piloted body cameras in 2016, under the leadership of former police chief Darryl Forte.

The board also discussed other budget concerns, with Mayor Quinton Lucas flagging litigation costs as a key concern. He suggested the possibility of public disclosure for litigation settlements.

“What are we doing (is to) actually see some systemic change,” he said. “I would, of course, enjoy public disclosure of settlements for all city or related departments.”

The police department is also continuing its budget review process to discuss possible cuts, consolidation, and other budget-saving measures, which need to total about $30 million in budget savings to get to the city’s needed $70 million in cuts. Lucas expressed his support of the review as a strategy. He spoke of his experience with a similar process for the city budget, and said it was an important move in order “to avoid just doing something that I think could be far more draconian.”

“Much of the goal of this exercise is to see, well, where are their shared issues, shared savings, etc., so that we can address that, because something that will be very hard for the city to do is to simply say, well, we need to get to 70 (million); we will ignore 30 (million).”

However, Police Chief Rick Smith pushed back on the discussion of budget cuts, citing concerns about the rising crime rate in Kansas City.

“I look at this from, you know, I know there's a money aspect here, but I believe there's a safe city aspect also that must be taken into consideration,” he said.

Councilwoman Katheryn Shields responded to Smith, noting that all departments are experiencing budget cuts and many departments have already seen substantial percentages cut from their budgets. “No matter how critical (the police are) to having a safe city, so is having the money to fund trash pickup. If we can't fund trash pickup in the city. Then suddenly, we're not only going to have a city littered with trash, but we're going to have rats and disease that follow that,” she said. “You know, you all say now, and I think quite fairly, that you're given so many tasks, beyond just policing. But if we cut all of these…I think you're going to find many other things much harder for you all as well.”

Published on: 12/15/2020