KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Indian Mound Neighborhood Association in northeast Kansas City, Missouri said it's up to them to solve issues in their community and should not rely on the Kansas City, Missouri, Police for everything.
"For a long time I think there's been an over-reliance on KCPD to solve all our problems," said Manny Abarca, president of the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association.
That's why the Indian Mound Neighborhood Association's four-person board issued a public letter, saying it will dismantle Crime Watch groups to create more positive neighbor interactions.
The board doesn't want community interaction officers to come to every meeting because they said it turns into a focus on crime.
"We've been asking the same challenges of KCPD and we've not seen any different results," Abarca said. "But when we apply for grants or focus our energy on improving parks, we see immediate return and that's where we're going to focus our efforts."
The board knows everyone doesn't agree with this decision. Former board member Pat Hulse is one of those residents.
"I don't understand what he's doing," Hulse said. "Yes, you can rely on each other but not everyone's home all the time. They're working, making a living. If you need help, you need the police."
Abarca said the board is not telling people not to call the cops.
"What's happening right now is we're just over-relying on them and almost blindly trusting everything that's occurring to be good and we can't necessarily control that once it's escalated to a certain point," Abarca said.
Indian Mound also issued a list of changes they want the police to enact, including a civilian oversight board and being transparent about police misconduct. They said this ties into national conversations about police brutality, considering the diversity of the neighborhood.
Indian Mound is a diverse neighborhood where the majority identify as Black, Latino, or Asian. About half speak a language other than English at home.
KCPD responded to the letter, saying overall the department has already checked almost everything off this list.
KCPD's responses are in bold:
● The Kansas City Police Department reversing its policy on sending probable cause statements to the relevant County Prosecutor’s Office in officer-involved shootings; Refers to Mayor Quinton Lucas's June 4 announcement requiring the police department to send probable cause statements to the prosecutor's office in officer-involved shootings.
● KCPD embracing and advocating for local control of its department to align with local accountability to the constituents of only Kansas City; The decision to change local control does not rest within the department, it would require changes at the state level.
● Immediately establishing a civilian oversight board that is completely detached from law enforcement and the protectionist, gubernatorial-appointed police board; The Office of Community Complaints is the longest running civilian oversight agency in the country (over 50 years) they are separate from the department you can find all the info and contact info here: https://www.kcpd.org/transparency/office-of-community-complaints/ [kcpd.org]
● All officer-involved shootings and all major use of force complaints must be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the civilian oversight board for independent review; The FBI does not conduct assault or homicide investigations, however they do review incidences of excessive force or civil rights violations and we have submitted such cases to them and the US attorneys office and Jackson county per this MOU since 2015 https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdmo/pr/press-conference-statement-us-attorney-tammy-dickinson [justice.gov].
● KCPD making misconduct of officers available to a clearing house or publicly operated state police misconduct registry, eliminating the ability for “bad apples” to move from station-to-station; The governing body that oversees licensing of police officers in the state of Missouri can put officers on probation, suspend or revoke their license https://dps.mo.gov/dir/programs/post/ [dps.mo.gov].
● KCPD establishing an automatic external review process involving the civilian oversight board for officers accused of two or more excessive force or community complaints within the same year; Refers to Mayor Lucas's June 4 announcement requiring all officer-involved shooting cases and excessive force complaints be sent to an outside agency for independent review, such as the FBI.
● KCPD establishing a mechanism to allow officers to anonymously “speak up” for issues that may arise within the ranks, without retaliation; There is a system in place. The Office of Community Complaints can receive anonymous or named whistleblower complaints from any member by phone, in person or email, this is in place.
● KCPD changing its rally, protest, and public gathering policies and procedures to foster a truly safe space to peacefully assemble and gather without an overbearing and exaggerated police presence that creates an intimidating environment. This includes banning the use of tear gas and delineating different engagement and protectionist tactics, as well as protection for members of the press, street medics helping injured and wounded protestors, and the prohibition on police destroying medical supplies; This is in response to claims of occurrences of things that did not happen or didn’t happen in the way they claimed.. we are committed to and have a long track record of protecting first amendment rights and everyone’s ability to demonstrate those.
● KCPD utilizing the community interaction officers to do more than simply collect information from the streets, but instead empower them to set priorities and fund community partnerships; There is a long list of outreach projects undertaken by the CIO’s and social workers, it happens every week. Here is just an example https://kcpdchief.blogspot.com/2020/01/a-look-back-at-good-things-in-2019.html [kcpdchief.blogspot.com].
● Requiring annual implicit bias and cultural competency training for all KCPD officers and staff; Again, Missouri POST mandates annual training in topics of racial profiling and implicit bias, the KCPD exceeds those requirements every year in continuing education in-service training for all sworn members.
KCPD said their community interaction officers have created positive relationships with the neighborhood.