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KCMO City Council votes down measure to fund search for new police chief

KCMO City Council
Posted at 3:42 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 22:08:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, City Council voted down a measure Thursday that would have appropriated funds for a nationwide search for a new police chief.

The current Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department chief, Rick Smith, is supposed to retire in April 2022.

A motion was introduced Thursday to take $200,000 from an appropriation fund and use it to find Smith's replacement — the measure was voted down 8-1.

It's unclear what that means — if the new chief will come locally or the dollar amount attached to the request was too much — but the city will soon need to line up a candidate. April is roughly five months away.

Nathan Garrett, a former Kansas City Police Board commissioner, says he believes the search for a new chief will be difficult for two reasons: varying interests of parties involved and recruiting a high caliber candidate in the midst of the social climate.

“Certainly you want a chief who can have a professional relationship, a productive relationship, with the city," Garrett said. "The city is a critical and important stakeholder in the police services without a doubt. As is the prosecutor’s office is an important companion and partner."

Garrett says a police chief elected in 2022 will have to juggle skill sets that former chiefs did not have to necessarily worry about.

“They have to be a politician, they have to be a public relations person and they have to be a paramilitary leader. And that is a tough ask,” Garrett said.

He says with the recent narrative and stigma around policing, it is a difficult time to be in law enforcement.

“All of it is going to send a very unequivocal message to a future chief that this is what you’re coming into," Garrett said. "You know, this is the dynamic that you are dealing with. And I think that’s going to be a big concern for any competent leader.”

Garrett thinks the current police board should cast their net wide and broad to find the best pool of candidates. He thinks a good candidate will know how to unite their police force, have a great track record of effective leadership and be able to discern what the biggest issues plaguing the city are.

“What is their demonstrated record of success in how they have both supported and held accountable their force? How have they walked that very delicate line?” Garrett said.