KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With violent crime again in the spotlight in the Kansas City area after several homicides this week alone – along with a lawsuit tied up in court over $42 million being reallocated from KCPD's budget into a community services and prevention fund – neighborhood leaders created a town hall event.
"We think that all of the taxpayer money should be accounted, transparent, should be audited and should be available for us to discuss," John James, president of Wendall Phillips Downtown East Neighborhood Association, said.
James, along with several other KCMO eastside neighborhood leaders, discussed the city's $42 million KCPD reallocation plan in front a few Kansas Citians in the 18th and Vine District.
Here at a Community Response Team (CRT) meeting where seven neighborhood leaders are discussing several topics, one including the KCPD reallocation of $42 million into a community services and prevention fund. They are in favor of the mayor’s proposal. @41actionnews pic.twitter.com/aYSavNkwzk— Nick Starling (@NickStarlingTV) June 9, 2021
"I believe that there isn’t any department anywhere who should not be held accountable for what they do with our tax dollars," Marquita Taylor, Santa Fe Neighborhood Association president, said.
So where should this $42 million dollars go? Many people who attended this meeting had different opinions, but it ultimately came down to finding a way to do something new to solve the city's crime problem.
"There has to be a mental illness component," said Lamar Vickers, cofounder of KCOG, "when they call the CIS officers, there needs to be more. They need to be more active."
Robert Williams, another KCOG cofounder, said the funds should go toward training.
"I think money will be better spent training I think that’s the issue is with them," Williams said.
Three KCMO councilwomen who voted for the plan also attended town hall and spoke on why they supported this move.
"With this $42 million, we want to be able to respond to what we’re hearing from neighborhood leaders and residents around addressing issues of crime and violence, addressing homicides before they occur, addressing root causes," Melissa Robinson, who represents District 3, said.
6th District At-Large Councilwoman Andrea Bough had similar thoughts.
"We need to, as a community and as taxpayers and council members, have a conversation about how the money is spent to ensure that we are addressing the issues," Bough said, "and so it’s about accountability and violence prevention."
Ryana Parks-Shaw, 5th District councilwoman, said KCPD Chief Rick Smith has not yet come to speak with council members.
"How can we come up with solutions if we can’t sit at the table to work together?" Parks-Shaw said.
As tempers have flared on each side of this debate, many at the town hall said they hope everyone cools down to listen to one another.
"We need to come together, we need to be a city," James said.