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KCMO promises renewed focus on civil rights investigations

City renames department, appoints director
Andrea Dorch.jpg
Posted at 1:09 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 14:09:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City, Missouri, has renamed its Human Relations Department to better reflect its mission.

City Manager Brian Platt announced Tuesday that the department now will be called the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department under the direction of Andrea Dorch.

Dorch, who worked for the city for 17 years before leaving to serve as a labor standards regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, rejoined the city staff and has been formally appointed as director of the Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity Department.

The changes were made “in an effort to renew focus on investigating civil rights violations and ensuring that inclusion, equity and diversity goals and training are part of all city operations,” the city said in a statement.

“Civil rights, economic inclusion, equity, and labor rights are the center of my vision for the department’s work,” Dorch said. “In this role, I endeavor to create a city where citizens have a discrimination-free environment in which to live, work and gather. We will do that by removing discriminatory restrictions in the marketplace and increasing the threshold for contracting opportunities to help ensure economic mobility for all our residents.”

The city's Human Relations Department was established in 1968 and investigates civil rights and city contracting violations.

Dorch, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Rockhurst University, later earned a Master of Public Administration in Urban Policy and Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is also a U.S. Navy veteran.

“Director Dorch brings a passion for the mission as well as top-notch organizational skills and experience to this position,” Platt said in a statement.

The renamed department is in charge of enforcing anti-discrimination laws, promoting the Tenants Bill of Rights and ensuring access to municipal business programs — including the minority-owned business enterprise and woman-led business certifications along with the gender equity and small local business programs.

Dorch, who started serving as the department’s director within the last month, has prioritized decreasing the processing time for business certifications, adding a place to file civil rights complaints on the myKCMO app, a new emphasis on investigations of fraud in city contracting, and updates to the diversity and inclusion policies for the police and fire departments.