KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department currently has nearly 1,300 officers, and they want to add more.
A KCPD spokesperson said on Feb. 25, the department plans to present a budget proposal to City Council asking them to fund 30 additional officers for their May 2020 academy class. The cost for the extra officers is $1,424,160.
On Wednesday, Mayor Quinton Lucas said one of his goals in his State of the City address was to add more police officers.
In January, 29 new officers joined KCPD. Officer Davian Jones is one of the new recruits.
Officer Jones said he choose a career in law enforcement for a new experience.
“I’m always doing something different, and that’s what I like about this job. Pretty much why I picked it. You wake up every morning and you’re going to do something new. It’s never going to be the same, you’re going to run into new people.," he explained
The Mississippi native has been on the job for over a month and said he noticed the reaction from the public.
“It’s shocking to see when people see you and see your uniform, it’s kind of like the respect goes down and I’m there to help, but once you get to talking to people, you let them know, ‘Hey, I’m here to help you.’ So then things kind of either can go right or left, hopefully it goes the right way," Jones said.
KCPD currently has 69 vacancies.
Sgt. Joe Bediako works with the department's recruitment process and explained that for many people, law enforcement is seen as a last resort career option.
“I was talking to a couple of parents, if your son or daughter is in college and have an opportunity to become a lawyer or doctor or police officer, which one do you want them to be?" he recalled.
Bediako said some reasons recruitment is not easy include a low unemployment rate, dangers of the job and increased scrutiny.
He said KCPD is trying to change perception through outreach and increase recruiting by changing testing from quarterly to monthly.
“We’re trying to do monthly so we can get more people, more bodies in the door, more bodies in the process," Bediako said.
While the department works on increasing staff, Officer Jones works on increasing trust on the streets he now patrols.
“Some people have had a bad experience with police officers, so when they see one, they’re just going to always think oh every officer is the same, but I feel like my job is to change that. Like there’s good people out here and good officers," Jones said.