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Kansas City, Missouri, mayor among those opposed to KCPD residency requirement bill

Some residents split on issue
Posted at 10:03 PM, May 10, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bill to ban a residency requirement for the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department will go before lawmakers in a conference committee Tuesday morning in Jefferson City.

It would still require personnel to live within 30 miles of the city limits and in Missouri.

But it doesn't have the support of the city's mayor, Quinton Lucas.

"If you are interested in helping Kansas City get safer and stemming the rising tide of shootings of homicides, this is not the answer," Lucas said.

Lucas and other opponents point to Minnesota, where officers are not required to live in the city, resulting in a more hostile environment. The mayor said he believes if S.B. 53 passes, police-community relations would splinter.

"I have Kansas Citians who want crimes being solved close to them," Lucas said. "I have Kansas Citians who want better and closer relations. I don’t have Kansas Citians who are saying we want 1,300 police officers to move out of Kansas City."

Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, said the proposal does not bring "a greater sense of trust nor transparency or accountability or community policing that is needed in Kansas City in order to better protect the lives of Black or Brown people in Kansas City."

Residents, however, have been split on the issue.

"I think that it's nice if they lived in our neighborhoods so they can be able to see what goes on in our neighborhoods, but I think it should be their choice," Janice Murphy said.

Ebony Henderson, however, said officers living in the neighborhoods they police would be "a beautiful thing."

"They’re able to understand the people in the neighborhood that they live in and work in so it will make things a whole lot better I believe," Henderson said.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville), who sponsored the bill, told 41 Action News in April that he's heard from police officers who want this chance so their children can attend different schools, they can live closer to family and help KCPD recruit officers.

"The fact is, it's just getting increasingly difficult to recruit police officers because the job is getting increasingly more difficult," Luetkemeyer said. "So I think it's no question that removing the residency requirement is going to enhance the city's ability to recruit more officers."

It's a point rebutted by Lucas.

"They had actually a full recruiting class before," Lucas said, "their most diverse class in history. A moment of success so therefore what is this bill actually solving? All it's doing is creating that greater division that we do not need."

To read the bill, visit the Missouri Senate website.