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KCPD unveils new protest policy as calls remain for police reform at local, national level

Plaza Protest-Nelson.jpeg
Posted at 5:00 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 19:35:38-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new Kansas City, Missouri, police policy for working peaceful protests was unveiled Wednesday, at a meeting in the historic 18th and Vine District.

It came one day after a jury found former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, guilty of three charges in the murder of George Floyd.

Demonstrators took the streets in Kansas City, like many other cities, last summer following Floyd’s murder.

Officers from KCPD were caught somewhat off guard when large groups of demonstrators gathered at the Plaza and the city had to block off traffic to protect people.

During the protests, there were some tense exchanges as demonstrators threw projectiles at officers who responded with tear gas.

This led to the collaboration of community leaders and KCPD to come up with a new protest policy.

Last month, the Kansas City Police Board approved the new policy.

Some highlights included KCPD minimizing displays of force, providing protesters reasonable time and space for their demonstrations and a gradual approach to handling demonstrations if they devolve into unlawful assemblies or riots.

Last August, KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas promised police reform and accountability.

“I think people of Kansas City can say wow, they’re really taking some key steps to make a difference for our future,” Lucas said in August.

Since that time, additional KCPD changes include body cameras acquired through private funding, including from the DeBruce Foundation.

As a result, body cameras will be available to all KCPD officers beginning Thursday.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol will now investigate all KCPD officer involved shootings to avoid a conflict of interest.

Additionally, KCPD now has explicit language banning chokeholds, even though there’s never been training for that technique.

"This shows not only my office, but the department, so many others, are really trying their best to make sure that we’re standing up to the challenges of the time,” Lucas said in August.

Police reform at the Federal level has been much slower than at KCPD.

On Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris called for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

"This bill would hold law enforcement accountable and help build trust between law enforcement and our communities," Harris said.

The proposal isn’t new.

Last June, then-Senator Harris introduced the measure as a co-sponsor with fellow Democrat Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

It came as bill called the "Justice Act," which was introduced by Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, was brought to the floor for debate.

Scott, expressed the need for reform saying he’s been racially profiled numerous times, including as a senator in the halls of Congress.

“I understand some part of what too many have experienced,” Scott said last June.

However, even though Harris and Scott’s bills had common ground on issues like banning chokeholds, body cameras and mandatory police data collection, no compromise was reached.

As a result, the bills died last June with no action.