KCPD gives wrong staff number to police board

Accurate number 64 fewer than reported

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Police Department provided the wrong number of sworn officers to the board that governs the department.

More than a week ago, the 41 Action News Investigators asked KCPD for the number of sworn police officers in the department.

Police said the number was 1,352.

But a source told investigators that the actual number is 1,288 officers.

The number given by police also didn't match KCPD's 2017 Annual Report, which showed 1,282 officers at the end of 2017.

An increase of 70 officers in nine months didn't correspond with information on a new officer candidate class.

On Monday, a KCPD spokesman acknowledged the error in an email and wrote, "I'm convinced there is some reason the two numbers are floating out there. I'm also convinced that I don't know at the moment what it is."

The spokesman said that the 1,352 officers came from the executive summary provided to the Police Board of Commissioners at its last meeting. The police board governs KCPD.

He said the number included 64 additional police officer candidates and academy recruits for budgetary purposes.

However, the same KCPD executive summary for the police board lists the number of sworn officers "budgeted" as 1,391 and the "actual" number as 1,352.

In KCPD's own 2017 annual report on force strength, it notes, "Police officer candidates are not sworn members until they graduate from the Regional Training Academy."

On Thursday afternoon, a KCPD spokesman confirmed the correct number of sworn officers in the department is 1,288.

Police Board of Commissioners President Nathan Garrett said, "I don't view that as significant in terms of 'inaccurate' numbers. We certainly have no incentive to over-report our officer count, so if someone wants to argue we’re too low on officers, you won’t hear me complaining." 

The strength and size of the Kansas City Police Department has been an issue for decades.

Fifty years ago, then-Mayor Ike Davis's Commission on Civil Disorder had a strong opinion after the race riots in 1968. The commission recommended Kansas City needed at least 1,500 police officers.

Today, that goal has not been met and the general trend in the last decade has been a decline in KCPD officers.

Garrett and Police Chief Rick Smith want to increase that number.

"I would like to have more officers on the street, the answer is yes to that. But I have to recognize the reality that I'm faced with and the department's faced with in trying to achieve that. We'll always need more officers on the street," Garrett said.

Garrett also said, "I think it goes without saying I expect accurate information."

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