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KCMO files response to BOPC lawsuit, calling it 'without merit'

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 13:38:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The City of Kansas City, Missouri, filed its response Tuesday to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners' lawsuit over ordinances changing the funding structure of the city's police department.

The BOPC filed the lawsuit at the end of May after the city council passed ordinances that would move a portion of KCPD's funding into a community services fund where the department would have to enter into a contract with the city to secure the funding instead of it being allotted in the annual budget.

The city's response to the lawsuit called it "legally and factually false."

“One month ago, I worked alongside a supermajority of the City Council to craft legislation with a clear and simple goal of making Kansas City safer after generations of violent crime in our neighborhoods and to break the status quo in crime prevention and rising homicide numbers," Mayor Quinton Lucas said in a statement on the filing. “Since that time, the unelected majority of the Police Board and their outstate allies have claimed many things, but have not worked with the City Council, members of the Police Department, clergy, community leaders, or the neighborhoods most affected by violent crime toward a safer city. Instead, they have pursued litigation that is short on legal foundation, high on hyperbole, and wholly without merit. The Police Board’s legal theories are undermined by the law and the Board’s own annual practices, ignore the plain language of Missouri statutes, and their desired remedy asks the Court to violate the Missouri Constitution."

The supermajority that Lucas cited did not include any members of the council from the Northland, which generated criticism from the large Northland population of Kansas City residents. Meanwhile, many community activists and community groups have applauded the move.

Mayor Lucas, who is an appointed member of the BOPC himself, claimed that the board's suit is not about protecting police or making the community safer, but is an effort to preserve their power given by the State of Missouri.

"During the pendency of this suit, twelve Kansas Citians have been murdered, including a 15-year-old child," Lucas went on. “I continue to encourage the taxpayer-funded Police Board to drop this wasteful litigation against the taxpayer-funded City and to work with us to build the safer Kansas City we all deserve.”

A response from the city has been long-awaited, and the city had filed a request for an extension to the response deadline that was approved.

The root of the ordinances and the lawsuit seem to come down to a battle over the state's control of how KCPD is operated.

The BOPC is appointed by the governor of Missouri to oversee KCPD's operations. Gov. Mike Parson has expressed disappointment in the recent ordinances.

Last week, civil rights activist Gwendolyn Grant filed a motion to intervene with the lawsuit and join on behalf of taxpayers, citing "taxation without representation" and violation of the Missouri Constitution in the way the board operates.

In the midst of the lawsuit, BOPC treasurer Nathan Garrett tendered his resignation. He was against the reallocation of funds.