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KCPD Board of Police Commissioners addresses Chief Smith’s retirement

Posted at 11:05 AM, Nov 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-29 12:05:15-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City, Missouri, Board of Police of Commissioners released a statement Monday after a closed session to discuss the future of Chief of Police Rick Smith.

The KCPD police board said in a statement that it never voted to fire Smith, who “has long planned to retire after approximately five years as Chief, culminating his 35 years of loyal service to the Department.”

A KCPD spokesperson confirmed Monday that Smith’s long-planned retirement has never appeared “in any public documents that have been released from the KCPD.”

The board provided no date for when Smith’s retirement will take effect, but indicated that he “will stay at least through the current budget process” and “remains in good standing with the Board of Police Commissioners.”

KCPD confirmed last week that Smith would retire “sometime” next year. An unsigned memo drafted by Board of Police Commissioners President Mark Tolbert indicates Smith will retire April 22, 2022 — but continue to receive his salary through Aug. 31, 2022 — a decision he will formally announce on March 1, 2022.

According to city documents, Smith’s annual salary for the most recent budget year was $189,768.

The news came within days of former KCPD Det. Eric DeValkenaere’s involuntary manslaughter conviction in the December 2019 shooting death of Cameron Lamb.

Smith has been under fire for several years as calls for his resignation grew louder and more frequent amid protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.

There were a record 176 homicides last year in KCMO, but Smith has been slow to adopt many reforms, prompting calls from within the city council for his resignation.

Smith has steadfastly rebuffed calls for his resignation, including an October 2020 interview in which he said he has no plans to resign.

Several social justice organizations released a joint statement in April 2021, which called for Smith’s resignation amid a bitter fight with City Hall over police funding.

Smith served as a major in the Central Patrol Division at the time of his promotion to police chief in August 2017.

There already have been calls for the next chief to be hired from outside the department, a road the Board of Police Commissioners seemed uncomfortable with five years ago.

The governor of Missouri appoints members of the police board, but city officials have sought a restoration of local control in recent years.

A state-appointed board has controlled the KCPD from its founding in 1874 through 1932. State control was reinstated in 1939 amid a corruption scandal.