What’s next as KCPD budget gets a boost from lawmakers

Funding for Kansas City’s police department has been a topic of controversy in recent years
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 8:25 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KCTV) — On Friday, Missouri lawmakers passed a bill requiring that the city allocate 25% of its general fund to the KCPD.

Since the 1950s, state law required 20%. However, the city has exceeded that percentage in recent years.

Funding for Kansas City’s police department has been a topic of controversy in recent years. There were lawsuits and angry community meetings. This bill is a direct response to that.

“In 2019, the city of Kansas City was listed as the sixth most dangerous city in America,” said Parkville Republican Senator Tony Luetkemeyer, who sponsored the legislation. “At this critical juncture right now, more than ever, we need to make sure that we are giving adequate resources for traditional policing activities to make sure that law enforcement officers are there to protect the public.”

The bill now heads to Governor Mike Parson. He will be the one who could sign this into law, but it can’t be enforced unless voters approve it.

A companion resolution puts a measure on the November ballot for a statewide vote on whether to give lawmakers the authority to increase minimum funding for police.

“This was filed to prevent future radical attempts by the city council to defund the KCPD,” said Luetkemeyer.

What he is referring to was an ordinance passed by the city council in 2021.

After allocating about 25% of the general fund to the police department, the council passed an ordinance to remove the portion that exceeded the mandated 20% and place it in what it called a Community Services and Prevention Fund.

Mayor Quinton Lucas has repeatedly rejected the phrase “defunding.” He claimed the money would go to police, but police would need to negotiate with the city about what programs would get the money. He has said his plan would give the people in Kansas City more say about how a modern police department should operate.

Lucas addressed the passage of the bill from Washington, D.C. while at the White House to discuss federal funding for public safety.

“I do not think necessarily that someone in out-state Missouri has better answers for policing than somebody in the core of Kansas City,” Lucas said. “I do not support anything that takes away our ability to work with our local police department and neighborhood leaders in terms of how we get to better solutions for violent crime.”

The KCPD is the only city police department in the state to be overseen by a Board of Police Commissioners rather than the city’s governing body.

The board consists of the mayor and four other members appointed by the governor.