KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bill to eliminate the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department residency requirement is sitting on Gov. Mike Parson's desk.
It passed by a 31-2 vote in the Missouri Senate earlier this month.
Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) introduced S.B. 53 after KCPD officers began reaching out to him, saying the requirement to live within the KCMO city limits was "a struggle."
Luetkemeyer said he believes the bill will help KCPD with recruiting, as he said there are more than 150 open officer positions in the department.
"To enhance the quality of life for police officers and the benefit to the community for that is we're hopefully going to retain officers and we're going to be able to help recruit and backfill some positions that are open right now," he said.
According to KCPD, these are the past 10 recruiting classes:
- No. 272 - 22
- No. 273 - 21
- No. 274 - 20
- No. 275 - 32
- No. 276 - 27
- No. 277 - 29
- No. 278 - 29
- No. 279 - 30 (October 2019)
- No. 280 - 18 (Feb 2020)
- No. 281 - 1 (Feb 2020)
The one officer in class No. 281 was because the officer, originally in class No. 280, had to be transferred due to circumstances beyond his control, according to KCPD.
However, some in the community are concerned, as they want officers to continue living within city limits.
"If they live in the neighborhood and they’re familiar people know them they know the neighbor, they know the neighborhood, they know how the neighborhood operates," Kansas City resident Nikelle Adigun said.
Kansas City resident Claincy Martin had similar thoughts.
"I definitely think police should live in the communities they are seeing and protecting," Martin said.
Branden Mims, COO with AdHoc Group Against Crime, said he believes the bill erodes police-community relations further.
"When officers work and live in the community that they work in, that it builds greater community trust," Mims said. "We find that they are more connected, they're more involved and that the residents feel like these officers have a connection to the community."
A new recruiting class was approved last Thursday at City Hall.
Parson has until July 15 to sign the bill into law.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated how long Missouri Gov. Mike Parson had to sign the bill into law.