Kansas City's Police chief abruptly and unexpectedly announced his retirement on Wednesday to the surprise of Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Kansas City Police Board President Leland Shurin and Fraternal Order of Police President Brad Lemon.
41 Action News broke the story Wednesday morning and Chief Darryl Forte followed with an announcement.
Less than two weeks earlier on March 10, Forte spoke about his future to 41 Action News at a community event in east Kansas City.
"I'll be here as long as I want to be here," he said on March 10. "I got community support, I have board support, I have support from the governor, I talked to him personally twice."
At the last police board meeting on March 7, James spoke about Forte.
"I've always had a good relationship with the chief," James said on March 7. "I still have a good relationship with him today, I'm satisfied with his leadership and I appreciate the fact that he's willing to do different things."
In a statement following Forte's retirement announcement, James statement says, "Chief Forte's leadership has been very valuable to our city. I have enjoyed the working relationship we've maintained and I will always consider him a friend."
While Forte's announcement appears to have come as a surprise to city leaders, it may also come with a surprise price tag.
The 41 Action News Investigators obtained records showing Forte is owed close to $500,000 in accumulated compensation, vacation and sick time in a cash payment upon his announced May 20 retirement.
As of March 10, Forte has accumulated 9514 unpaid hours with a total cash payout of more than $499,000.
Forte replied to 41 Action News via Twitter stating, "I earned my compensation. I encourage young people to set goals and reach for the stars like I did."
— chiefforte (@ChiefForte) March 22, 2017
That pending payout comes as the police department has asked for an additional $1.7 million from the city for raises for mid level officers FOP President Brad Lemon says they are rapidly losing.
"We hope that the city council will give strong consideration to help keep some of those men, those mid level officers," Lemon said.
But the city council put that decision on hold Wednesday with a potential vote coming as soon as Thursday.
Kansas City, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #99 sent out the following statement:
Tomorrow is a crucial vote for this city, our officers and our citizens. The Kansas City Police Department has requested an $1.7 million dollar increase in this year’s proposed budget. This money is needed to keep salaries for our officers competitive with neighboring agencies.
We cannot continue to lose officers we train and who have excelled at KCPD to other agencies because we can’t afford to keep them.
After Chief Forte announced his retirement news broke that he is owed a substantial amount of money for his accrued sick, vacation and compensation time.
The ability to accrue this much time was an agreement between Chief Forte and the Board of Police Commissioners.
Every other member on the department is capped at the amount of time they can accrue.
We implore the city council to do what is right for our officers and those who live and work in Kansas City and not let this news impact this vote. Our officers and our citizens should not suffer for something in which they have no control.
Moving forward we hope the BOPC reexamines this practice and does what is in the best interest of everyone in Kansas City.
On March 10, Forte addressed his comp time.
"I'll keep doing what I do, that's part of my agreement with the board," he said. "I'll keep getting my comp time and I'll keep letting you all report on it. I got support from the community on my comp time," Chief Forte said on March 10.
Lemon says he's concerned the chief's comp time payout could impact the pay raise money request with the city council.
He also hopes the Kansas City Police Board will review the chief's comp time practice before a new chief is hired.
Police Board President Leland Shurin says that practice will be reviewed carefully.
As for who will now replace Forte, James in a statement said he's "committed to finding the best person in the country to lead the department."
Andy Alcock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.