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KCMO Mayor Quinton Lucas discusses 'pandemic of gun violence'

Lucas also discusses COVID-19 in 1-on-1 interview
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Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 23:28:48-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 41 Action News Anchor Dia Wall sat down with Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas to look back on 2020. In this part of their conversation, Lucas discussed policing and the city's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

41 Action News Anchor Dia Wall: Mayor Lucas thanks for joining us.

Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas: Yes ma'am happy to be with you.

DW: You campaigned as the public safety candidate.

QL: Yep.

DW: Kansas City is in the middle of record breaking crime. What is your plan to address it?

QL: Well, I think there were a few things that we have to say. I take personal responsibility for our record-breaking homicides. I think what we can't do is continue to pass the buck; that has happened for too many years.

In my lifetime, probably more than 4,400 Kansas Citians have been murdered. That is an epidemic. That makes this feel like a pandemic of gun violence in our city — disproportionately Black, disproportionately male. This has to be the thing that we turn around. We can't just wait for another generation and continue to see the carnage that we see in our streets right now.

DW: The spring was marked by calls for change when it comes to law enforcement. You mentioned reimagining policing. You were out front. You got criticized by people for not being tough enough on Kansas City police. You also got criticized by people for being anti-police. If you look back at that time, and your response in your presence, would you change anything?

QL: Not really, no, and this is why. When George Floyd was murdered and when we saw the insurrections around the country, we didn't have burnt out entire stretches of Kansas City. We didn't have the number of fatalities and shootings that you've seen in past riots in this country. And I think we all were able to come out of that conversation and say, "All right, now that we're past it. What can we do better?"

You’ve seen us change the policy in connection with officer-involved shootings. The Missouri (State) Highway Patrol is now investigating all of those as opposed to the Kansas City Police Department. You've seen other changes as it relates to reporting obligations. I continue to push changes and reforms in the Office of Community Complaints, better whistleblower protections in the Kansas City Police Department are things that are important. We have much more to do, but I am proud of the fact at least we started taking some steps.

DW: How would you grade the city's response in this unprecedented health emergency?

QL: Our response to COVID-19, I believe has saved lives. It has been a difficult process to get through it, but I'm very proud of the bold steps we've taken — controversial ones at times — but the steps we've taken to make sure people stay safe.

DW: What are your hopes for 2021?

QL: My hopes include us making sure enough people get inoculated and get the vaccine so we can get back to normal — as normal as normal will ever be — making sure folks get back to school, making sure our business is going to have the chance to flourish again. Our entertainment industry and our restaurant industries have been hit hard in the hardest moments I really want to look out for.

But the other thing that I would say is I want to make sure that we're a safer place. Our gun violence was heartbreaking this year, we lost too many kids — particularly little kids — and we need to make sure that we're working together.

You know, I did a forum with you all at Channel 41 during the summer — myself, the police chief, county prosecutor.

We all need to maybe force ourselves to get locked in the same room again a few times and say, "How we are going to make things better?" and I guess promise everyone we're not coming out until we figure it out.