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Kansas City community groups explain 'lack of trust' with police, city leaders

Reform-Project-KC
Posted at 9:40 PM, Sep 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-30 23:51:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — To combat a surge in violent crime, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced Reform Project KC, a four-prong plan that focused on prevention, intervention, enforcement and administrative changes.

Lucas was joined by KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith, Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker and other city leaders at a briefing to announce the program Wednesday at City Hall.

Many community and civil groups were notably absent.

“The energy is there," community activist Justice Horn said. "A lot of people are on board and a lot of people want to see this done, but not every single person was at the table."

The AdHoc Group Against Crime, the Urban League of Greater Kansas City and the NAACP's Kansas City chapter, which Peters Baker acknowledged and addressed during the press conference, were among the groups absent from the press conference.

“They don’t trust us," Baker said. "They don’t trust our plan, and they don’t trust the players that are a part of it."

AdHoc president Damon Daniel and the Urban League of Greater Kansas City’s President and CEO Gwendolyn Grant helped explain where that skepticism comes from Wednesday evening.

Both Daniel and Grant agree that something has to be done to address the violence in Kansas City, but there's concern Reform Project KC will be more empty rhetoric.

“I am a little burnt out on all of these plans," Daniel said. "I think it’s time for us to put our money where our mouth is and fund what needs to be funded and let’s get to work."

Reform Project KC is Lucas' second project this year aimed at reducing violence. He appointed a five-member Public Safety Study Group in May to make “timely recommendations for how we can address violent crime and governance in our city.”

“There has not been sufficient conversation, real conversation, about people’s real capacity to deliver on what needs to be done, and we really need to have these conversations,” Daniel said.

Grant agreed that an in-depth conversation is needed, but she said those conversations cannot happen until KCPD makes changes.

“This plan does not address the important wide-sweeping reforms that are necessary in how the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department polices our community," Grant said. "It’s not an either-or (scenario)."

The Urban League of Greater Kansas City and the NAACP have been pushing for Smith to retire or be fired, saying they have lost faith in his ability to lead.

“We certainly do not want to eliminate law enforcement," Grant said. "We want to be collaborative with law enforcement, but it cannot be two different sets of rules and standards. And we must have equal justice and two-tiered justice."

Lucas acknowledged the plan is “a starting point” and “not the final plan.” He asked for the community’s input to help make it a success.

For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.

Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.