KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In a community meeting held at the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department's South Patrol Division, Police Chief Rick Smith stuck to the topic at hand — the upcoming budget and crime trends.
He didn't address the elephant in the room.
There was no mention of the conviction of one of his detectives—Eric Devalkenaere—in the shooting death of Cameron Lamb or the remarks he allegedly made at the scene. He also did not address his upcoming retirement.
A KCPD spokesperson said the chief would address either issue if a community member in the audience asked about it, but that didn't happen.
In the almost two years since the shooting of Cameron Lamb, KCPD faces a battle with violent crime.
There’ve been at least 139 homicides so far this year.
Residents from neighborhoods south of Brookside believe more officers are necessary to curb crime.
"Right now, as we're losing officers, we have no one to shift from other places," Smith told residents Wednesday evening.
The Board of Police Commissioners agreed to set aside $135 million for salaries that would get the department to around 1,400 officers, right now, KCPD has around 1,190.
"It's promising that there's money there but we need action today we need to make sure that the police officers are hired and available on the street today," Stacey Johnson-Cosby, who organized Wednesday's meeting, said.
The money for salaries can’t be used for anything else, like paying out lawsuit settlements — something the department has done in previous budgets.
At this time, it’s unknown how much the department will have to pay Cameron Lamb’s three children in a wrongful death lawsuit that’s making its way through the legal system.
Johnson-Cosby said Wednesday's meeting gave residents an opportunity to have a voice in the budget process.
The budget is now in the hands of city leaders, but a series of public meetings are scheduled during the winter of 2022 before it being implemented May 1, 2022.