KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At Tuesday's Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Chief Richard Smith and other top officers spoke about their concerns regarding staffing within the department.
Deputy Chief Michael Hicks presented the KCPD staffing numbers to the board. He said that the budget accounts for 2,026 employees, but current staffing numbers are 1,207 sworn officers and 504 non-sworn employees. That indicates there are over 300 openings.
Hicks said the department is quickly approaching law enforcement staffing numbers of the 1990s, and by October 2022, the department could be below 1,000 law enforcement members, or numbers not seen since the 1980s.
"Even with academy classes, KCPD will have law enforcement staffing numbers of the mid-1980s by end of 2022," Hicks said if the trend continues.
Deputy Chief Micahel Wood spoke to the BOPC about the academy class numbers, and said they are hoping for bigger classes in January and March of next year.
Wood said that the 172nd class, graduating on Dec. 8, went from 14 to nine outside Kansas City recruits. The recent class, which started earlier this month and will graduate in March, started with 32 Kansas City recruits and 16 outside recruits, but it has already lost three KC recruits.
Although the staffing and academy class numbers are low, Hicks did say the #BeKCPD recruiting program has increased the number of applicants for non-sworn jobs and greatly increased the applicants for sworn jobs. He said the last testing date saw 22 people applying be KCPD officers, and 36 people have signed up for this Thursday's testing date.
During the August meeting of the BOPC, KCPD officers raised similar concerns. In 2019, KCPD lost 180 members but hired 200 new members. In 2021, KCPD had already lost 120 at the time of the Aug. 31 meeting, and they had only hired 19 news members.
“The staffing issue is a very serious and real issue in the police department, and it is hopefully not going to affect the services to our citizens, but everything else is going to be affected,” Smith said.
Chief Smith also spoke about the potential for Kansas City to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup. He said in order for the department to protect the city during a big event, they would need more staff.
"Very quickly our resources dwindle as we try to protect the city, so we would need some sort of staffing boost to handle that in my opinion," Smith said.