Mayor’s ordinance to reallocate KCPD funding passes city council 9-4

Andrei Stoica

5/20/2021- Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas

File photo by Andrei Stoica

Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced a motion at the May 20 City Council meeting to reallocate $42,282,444 of the Kansas City Police department budget to the Community Services and Prevention Account of KCPD, which is intended to support community initiatives and prevention programs.

Lucas said the reallocation is aimed at ensuring KCPD funds are used with greater accountability. “This is just about accountability,” he said. “When I was third district at large, there was not a single community meeting where people didn't say, ‘Councilman Lucas, what are you doing about violent crime in our city?’ And you know what I get kind of tired of saying, ‘Well, you know, I voted on the budget back in March. And I'll follow up and ask some more questions for it.’ So maybe this is just one little step.”

The five percent decrease to the department budget was passed city council with a vote of nine to four. The motion was introduced for same day advanced priority consideration with opposition from Councilman Dan Fowler who said, “I doubt I will support it when it comes before council, hopefully after it's been vetted, and talked about."

The councilman also voiced a concern about “transparency in government” regarding waiving additional readings.

“We have no way of knowing how we're going to spend $42 million. Is going to go to law enforcement? Is going to go to some of the community program that somebody links to law enforcement, reducing crime? I have no idea. This is wrong. I can't support this," he said.

Fowler was one of the four votes against Ordinance 210466 alongside council members Kevin O'Neil, Heather Hall and Teresa Loar.

“This is my 14th year down here. This is the worst piece of legislation I've ever seen down here. The worst, by far” said Hall. “One thing I didn't notice on here, Mr. Mayor, are your two police officers who protect you day in and day out. They're not being cut.”

Councilman Brandon Ellington, who voted in favor of the legislation said “Why is it important? It's important because people that are law enforcement officers are actually individuals that work for and are restricted to policy implications. on a local level”

”When we talk about law enforcement, the conversation is broken down to us versus them. If you find yourself understanding of which position you are in, are you them or are you us? That is problematic because we're talking about a public safety entity.” he added.

Mayor Pro Tem Kevin McManus agreed, citing the reallocation ordinance as well as a second ordinance that supplies additional city funding to KCPD for the community programs: “DC and Jefferson City, what they want us to think is that this is an us versus them situation, us versus law enforcement, community versus law enforcement. That's not what this is about. These two ordinances together are actually an invitation for cooperation, an invitation for collaboration.”

The second ordinance (210468), allocates $3 million to the Community Services and Prevention account. It authorizes the City Manager to execute an agreement with the Board of Police Commissioners of Kansas City, Missouri in a total amount not to exceed $45,282,444.00 for community engagement, outreach, prevention, intervention, and other public services including recruitment efforts for a new police academy class.

Councilwoman Mellisa Robinson spoke on Twitter following the vote expressing her support for the ordinance specifically because it would provide support for the academy class.

Hall also took to Twitter to announce a Town Hall discussion on Thursday May 27 at 6:30 pm at Northland Neighborhoods Inc, hosted by the four council members who voted “no” on both ordinances.

"Ordinance 210466 introduced & passed May 20th cut the KCMO Police Budget by $42 million without public input,” the flyer reads.

The Board of Police Commissioners is also pushing back, with all members except Lucas (Commissioner Tolbert absent) voting to initiate litigation against the ordinance during a closed session meeting held Monday, May 24. Sunshine Law attorney Bernie Rhodes told KSHB 41 the meeting may have violated laws regarding closed meetings needing to have clear agenda items and explanation for why they are closed meetings.

Ordinance 210466 reallocated but did not cut police department funding, while Ordinance 210468 added $3 million to support Community Service and Prevention.

“This actually increases the police budget over what it is in the adopted budget for the city of Kansas City,” Lucas said.

The town hall event is open to the public and will be held 5340 NE Chouteau Trafficway, Kansas City, Missouri.

Published on: 5/26/2021