KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansans nearly had the opportunity to work for the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, but the city's Board of Police Commissioners squashed the proposal.
"Is there some objective evidence that suggests it would be helpful to the department?" Commissioner Cathy Dean asked the presenting officer during Tuesday's BOPC meeting, at which KCPD's residency requirement policy was considered.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed into law earlier this month a bill that changes residency requirements for Kansas City police officers. Under the new requirement, KCPD officers can live up to 30 miles outside city limits but have to live in Missouri.
The presenting officer said he didn't have objective evidence but thought the department could make a strong case that allowing Kansas residents to apply would improve the department. Chief Rick Smith and other officers said they've heard from people who wanted to work for KCPD but weren't willing to move out of Johnson County because of the school districts.
The commission ultimately eliminated the Kansas option and passed the residency policy.
KCPD can revisit the Kansas option before Aug. 31, when the state law goes into effect.
Commissioners Mark Tolbert, Cathy Dean, Don Wagner and Mayor Quinton Lucas all said during the meeting that they never wanted to open recruitment to people outside of city limits to begin with.
Still, the department is looking at how to recruit officers who will stay in the community and make positive change.
"It's a big community, it's a diverse community," Lucas said, "but it's better to have folks with us – particularly at a time we're talking about police-community relations – than having them further away."
Lucas, also a board member, introduced two resolutions: One that asks the board to find $3 million in the budget for police raises, and another that would create incentives for police officers to live in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
The hope is that these officers will get to know their neighbors and build trust.
"That can include and [has] included in the past: property tax abatements, mortgage assistance, take-home cars, all types of things," Lucas said. "Yes, the people of Kansas City want to have stronger relationships with our officers."