KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Though there aren't protests every day, calls for reform within Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department aren't being ignored.
"I don't think Kansas City is the only city with those problems by a long shot. I think most cities our size have many of those same problems," Leland Shurin, former president of the Board of Police Commissioners, said.
Since leaving the board in 2019 when his appointed term ended, Shurin said he has seen the erosion in trust between law enforcement and minority communities.
That prompted him to write to the current board with recommendations to rebuild some of that trust.
"I’m suggesting in this letter that in effect, the police take the first big step," Shurin said.
Shurin provided 11 suggestions, including:
- Creating a rotating committee of leaders from minority communities to meet with KCPD regularly to have "open and frank conversations about ongoing challenges and opportunities."
- Have the Office of Community Complaints report to the BOPC, as well as a new committee that would have representatives from the Clay, Platte and Jackson county prosecutor's offices and the chair of the KCMO public safety committee.
- Have mental health professionals at each patrol station just like they do with social workers.
"Chief Smith called me the next day maybe or the day after and told me that he thought there were some very worthwhile ideas," Shurin said.
A KCPD spokesperson confirmed in a statement that Chief Rick Smith had reviewed Shurin's letter and believed it include "a lot of good ideas."
"We remain open to suggestions and ideas from all of our partners in the community, including those of the former commissioner," the spokesperson said. "We look forward to discussions at the upcoming board meeting, and subsequent board meetings about how we can remain innovative when it comes to building and maintaining relationships with the citizens of Kansas City."
On the same day Shurin sent his letter to board, so did KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas, who sits on the board.
Lucas, however, requested changes to the way the commissioners conduct meetings so they prioritize and address the ongoing gun violence plaguing the city.
Regarding violent crime, community outreach, and accountability efforts to support the public and rank and file officers, I shared the following with the Board: pic.twitter.com/X7ETp6nnKE— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) June 14, 2021
And Shurin said he believes the current dynamics can be overcome with "hard work" from both sides.
"I don't believe that the situation as it is that the mistrust will go on or need to go on," Shurin said.