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KCPD officer alleges in lawsuit he was instructed to target minority communities to meet ticket quota

Posted at 5:03 PM, Mar 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-22 18:03:51-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City, Missouri, police officer alleges he was instructed to target neighborhoods predominantly made up of minorities when issuing traffic tickets, among other allegations.

Edward Williams, who has been an officer with KCPD for 21 years, filed the lawsuit against the department on March 20 in Jackson County.

The lawsuit, in which Williams claims discrimination and retaliation, outlines the trouble for Williams began in February 2019 when he received a "perfect performance" on an evaluation by his supervisor.

A few months later, he was assigned a new sergeant, who Williams claims gave him a poor evaluation because he had issued a low amount of tickets early on in the year.

Williams claims that since 2015, officers were pushed to meet their ticket quota, and those who did not meet it were told they'd be moved to "the dog watch" shift.

The lawsuit said the directive came directly former KCPD Chief of Police Rick Smith.

KCPD Chief of Police Stacey Graves issued a statement on the allegations.

"Our department is dedicated to policing that is both equitable and fair in all aspects of our duties," Graves said in the statement. "We do not direct enforcement activities based on demographics. We do direct traffic enforcement in high crash locations as well as citizen traffic complaint locations. I find these allegations very concerning and will immediately ensure the Traffic Division is reminded to operate and enforce laws appropriately."

Missouri's ticketing laws were updated in the mid 2010s. As part of the update, Willliams claims officers were told they could no longer be issued ticket quotas, and instead were required to perform to make at least 100 stops a month.

Officers were ranked by the amount of tickets they gave out and would receive unsatisfactory marks on evaluations for low ticket numbers, the lawsuit alleges.

In March 2021, KCPD equipped all of its officers with body cameras.

According to Williams, the cameras require officers to spend two to three hours on charging them.

Williams alleges command staff told him and other officers to continue working without the cameras being charged due to low ticket numbers being issued by officers.

In May 2021, Williams filed several complaints with KCPD's human resource department.

Williams documented concerns about "directives from leadership to go to minority neighborhoods to write tickets because of the belief that it would be easier to write multiple citations on every stop."

He also alleges a KCPD captain expressed that officers should only respond to calls in White neighborhoods like north in Shoal Creek.

The captain allegedly said that "those are the folks who are actually paying for the police."

Officers were also told they should not respond to calls in "minority filled areas north of Bannister, west of 435, south of the river, because those people do not vote the same way as the people out south, east, and north."