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Jackson County judge hears KCPD funding lawsuit; judgement not expected for a week

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 18:17:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — A lawsuit filed by the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners against the City of Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas and other city officials was heard Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit is over ordinances Kansas City City Council passed that would reallocate $42 million from the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department budget to a new community services fund the department would have access to through contracting with the city.

Lawyers representing the Board of Police Commissioners (BPOC) argue state law makes it clear the board controls KCPD's budget. Lawyers for the city don't argue that fact, but say the board can't tell the city how the appropriate money.

Three people were called to the stand during the hearing: Commissioner Cathy Dean, KCMO Finance Director Tammy Queen and BOPC Budget Manager Kristine Reiter.

Reiter was asked by an attorney representing the board what the financial impact of the ordinances would be on KCPD. Reiter testified three patrol divisions would run out money and 1,000 members of the department would lose their jobs if the ordinances went through.

When Queen took the stand, she insisted the city would not allow a drastic outcome to happen.

Outside of the courtroom, Lucas added the city will take care of its department.

“The finance director noted that we continue to pay for accounts even though they were reportedly zeroed out because the police department has the ability to amend its own budget, to reallocate its own priorities and we recognize that fact,” Lucas said.

Lucas said transparency is important when taxpayer dollars are at stake.

“What we’re trying to say is, 'Let us know what you’re doing. Let us see your work,'” Lucas said.

Pat McInerney represented the BOPC in court Wednesday.

“I trust that city officials are going to follow their own law and if they do, they cut Metro, and they cut East and they cut Central," McInerney said.

McInerney said the city had an opportunity to talk to the board about their priorities in the budget.

“There’s a big window to make these adjustments and what you heard us say today is that window was open for a long time, but there’s a door that slams at the end of that process and that’s when the board approves the budget," McInerney said.

McInerney said he feels confident the court will rule in the board's favor, but added he's prepared to appeal if necessary.

A judgment is not expected for at least a week.