NewsLocal News


Control of KCPD could pose unique legal battle

Posted at 6:56 PM, May 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-25 19:56:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City-area law professors are weighing in on a possible legal battle between the City and the Board of Police Commissioners.

During Monday's BOPC closed executive session, commissioners voted, 3-1, to establish a committee to explore a potential lawsuit to prevent the recently enacted police funding reform.

Allen Rostron, law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the situation is a novel one.

"I think it's a very unique sort of new situation, so it makes it hard to say for sure who would prevail," Rostron said.

Mayor Quinton Lucas said he doesn't believe the situation needs to resort to legal action. However, he said the city will vigorously defend its claims if the BOPC elects to proceed.

"I think that does represent taxation without representation," Lucas said. "I think it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, the current setup we're in, and I think it's been something that has been unconstitutional for generations."

Rostron said it could be an uphill battle for Lucas to prevail on the argument.

"To some to extent, it's a rhetorical and a political thing as well," Rostron said. "You talk about it being unconstitutional, maybe in part because you believe it, and you would establish that in a lawsuit, but you're also just trying to make a point about what you think is right or wrong or fair or unfair."

Community activists said Monday's vote to move forward with litigation by the BOPC speaks to why the city needs local control.

"All they do is defend Rick Smith, and they defend mediocrity, failure to perform, and then want us to keep writing these blank checks," said Gwen Grant, president of the Urban League of Kansas City.

Lucas said he hopes the board will work with the city to hold KCPD accountable for how it spends its money.

41 Action News reached out to David Kenner, legal counsel to the BOPC for comment. Our requests for an interview and statement were declined.