KANSAS CITY, Mo. — There’s an ongoing push for more openness and accountability for the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
"I'm a lawyer, I'm a mayor. I believe in institutions, and the way you change institutions is actually through policies and procedures," said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who’s spearheading that push.
Lucas’ current focus is to make it easier for citizens to file complaints against police officers.
"I think it's vital for us right, we're talking about a time of openness and accountability and I want to make sure there's a formal process by which we can actually have that," he said.
The changes Lucas is proposing include allowing minors to file complaints, lengthening the time to file a complaint after an incident from 90 days to two years, and allowing witness or third-party complaints.
"I come here every day to try to make sure we build better trust between the community and the police department," Lucas said. "We understand that there is a grudge and an aggravation right now that's not unique to Kansas City, that's in a lot of places. We understand that folks want to see more accountability, want to see more discussion. That's why we're bringing these things forward."
Kansas City’s Office of Community Complaints, or OCC, is where citizens can bring their issues involving police officers.
OCC Director Merrell Bennekin told the Board of Police Commissioners on Tuesday that despite an increase in community tensions, the number of complaints has stayed roughly the same.
The OCC currently is working on a website to allow citizens to file complaints online.
"We're just really trying to increase the efficiency, functionality and transparency of the OCC and make it user-friendly," Bennekin said.
"The website will help," Lucas added. "You know, right now, a lot of people would say how would I start."
The mayor’s proposals will go through further review, including by police, before they may be implemented.