Proposition A vote could eventually lead to local control of Kansas City police

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Once a month, police boards meet in both Kansas City and St. Louis. These two cities on opposite sides of the state are connected by an old policy -- both their police departments are controlled by the state. 

Missouri's governor appoints members to each city's police board. The state legislature couldn't resolve whether the decades-old policy should be abandoned, so a grass-root effort forced the local control question on a statewide ballot. 

Proposition A will be voted on by all Missourians, but proponents of the measure, like St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, claim it will have a direct impact on a small number of the state's citizens. Slay noted that the measure would only lead to local control of the St. Louis police board.

"We're not asking for anything unusual," explained Slay, campaigning for the vote in Kansas City.

During his visit, Slay met with Kansas City mayor Sly James, who supports the measure. That support has led to some speculation whether Kansas City would try to push a similar change.

"This will be an opportunity to bring up the discussion," said Police Board President Lisa Pelofsky. 

Over the years, there has been talk about trying to retain local control of the police department. Pelofsky, among others, countered that the department is wel- run and highly thought of by the citizens the department serves.

"This is working, we get very high marks on citizen satisfaction surveys done by the city of Kansas City," she said.

Slay is promoting the measure with claims that it would save St. Louis money, referring to duplicate departments in the police department and the city. Pelofksy noted that many of those redundancies have been eliminated in Kansas City. 

Slay did say that St. Louis gaining local control doesn't mean Kansas City would follow.

"Whatever Kansas City does is going to be up to Kansas City. That's going to be a separate issue," he said. "What works for St. Louis may not necessarily work for Kansas City."

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