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Kansas City, Missouri, City Council adopts KCPD reform, accountability measures

KCMO City Council.jpeg
Posted at 5:42 PM, May 20, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council Thursday passed two ordinances that clear the path for a change in funding is allocated to the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

Both ordinances passed by a 9-4 vote margin.

In a Thursday morning news conference, Mayor Quinton Lucas announced the city legislation along with nine council co-sponsors.

The legislation amends the city’s fiscal year 2021-2022 city budget by reallocating more than $42 million that had been allocated to the police department into a Community Services fund.

That pool of money, which would be controlled by local government, could eventually be used by the police department in contracts approved by the city manager and council.


Councilmembers Dan Fowler, Heather Hall, Kevin O’Neill and Theresa Loar — all representing districts north of the river — voted against both ordinances.

A city spokesperson said the ordinances are set to take effect in 10 days.

On Thursday afternoon, KCPD Chief Rick Smith released a statement through the department’s media office, saying he was disheartened not to have been more involved in the process, a criticism also levied by the four dissenting council members.

At the Thursday morning news conference, the mayor said the city couldn’t keep operating the police department in the same way as in the past and expect different results.

“Doing the same thing we’ve been doing for generations—blank checks to the Police Department that get larger and larger each year without a prevention focus—has sadly not worked for the thousands of Kansas City families impacted by violent crime. We can’t just stand by a single day longer,” Lucas said. “Today, we are announcing a new course of action because we have to do better. We have to save lives.”

During the news conference, the mayor fought back against labeling the ordinances as “defunding the police.”

“This is not defunding the police,” the mayor said. “This is is actually increasing accountability for the first time in 80 years for the Kansas City Police Department.”

However, Thursday night, Brad Lemon, president of the Fraternal Order of the Police, said in a tweet that "defunding is real."

"Today’s decision by anti-police council members will have real ramifications for the safety of residents and businesses," Lemon tweeted. "43 million in cuts equates to 400 positions. Thankful for the four members of council who opposed and voted for police today."