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Kansas City mayor calls for transparency in selection of city's next police chief

Posted at 9:19 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 23:11:24-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Thursday, the Kansas City, Missouri, community could know who will lead the city's police department and its 300-plus officers.

On Tuesday, KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas asked for the decision to be made public, but he was overruled by other Board of Police Commissioners in a 4-1 vote.

Many in the KCMO community are calling for transparency, including Alvin Brooks, the founder of the AdHoc Group Against Crime

Brooks told the BOPC that more meetings are needed so the community has a chance to meet the three finalists.

The five members of the BOPC could name the next chief of police Thursday morning, a seat that's been open since Rick Smith retired in April.

Ahead of the decision, KSHB 41 sat down with Lucas, who is also the only member of the BOPC not selected by the governor.

Lucas said this issue goes back to state control over local accountability.

“There’s criticism, and one I think is fair," Lucas said. "There is a lot of mystery about how this choice is made and I think the mystery will be continued through tomorrow and after the decision is made."

Lucas said the decision should be out in the open like any other public hiring, for example a city manager or a school superintendent.

“There’s no reason the people of Kansas City should not be able to know why we are picking whomever we are picking,” he said.

KSHB 41 News asked Lucas how the community feedback has been received.

“I think that’s a fair question, in terms of how much the community feedback has meant to individual board members,” Lucas said. “I think it’s something that’s a choice of each of one of the five members, but there isn’t a big board of what we wrote down, numbers and scales, I think that’s largely why I think the public discussion would be helpful.”

A group of 16 faith and civic businesses held several sessions to see what the community wanted. They told the board their findings in a report back in May.

Their findings haven’t since been discussed in an open session in nine months.

KSHB 41 News asked if there is a scoring rubric, a metric, or categories.

“I’m not familiar with a scoring rubric, categories, I see reasons for critique,” Lucas said.

He thinks whoever is selected Thursday will fulfill all the qualifications selected in August and will hit the ground running.

“One, they will make this a safer city,” Lucas said. “We have far too many homicides this year, a number that’s surprising me even now. That’s job number one. The next step is making connections with communities, particularly communities that are impacted by violent crime all the time.”

KSHB 41 reached out to the rest of the BOPC for comment on the new hire decision being made public, but did not hear back before this story was published.