JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- The Kansas City Police Department has two new policies in place in the wake of last summer’s protests.
Last summer, hundreds of protestors gathered day and night at the Plaza after the death of George Floyd to demand racial justice and an end to police brutality in the country.
“We’ve been working on this issue since 2013. Not for 10 months, but nearly 10 years,” says Dr. Vernon Howard, President of the Southern Christian Leadership Council.
Howard says his chapter has been fighting for justice for several of the local victims, including Cameron Lamb and Donnie Sanders.
“Busy trying to ensure that the civil rights of all Kansas Citians are protected,” says Howard.
For years, the group has been requesting the KCPD get body cameras and change policies.
In December, the KCPD added body cameras to their department and two police reforms were approved just this week.
One applies to the cameras, which requires officers to wear body cameras during every interaction with the public. All footage not being used as evidence must be retained for 180 days.
The other policy change is in regard to protestors. It is called the First Amendment Policy.
The policy prohibits officers from using less-lethal weapons, such as bean bag rounds, rubber bullets or fired projectiles to disperse crowds in the event of an unlawful assembly.
It also states that officers will make all reasonable efforts to allow law abiding individuals to continue exercising their First Amendment rights and focus on those people who violate the law.
“Both of those things were really hot topics with the community. They wanted that for the accountability of our police department and the community deserves that,” says Sgt. Jacob Becchina of KCPD.
The new policy still will allow the use of tear gas, which KCPD says is a useful and safe way of dispersing an unlawful gathering or crowd.
For Howard, his concern is on whether the department will follow these policies.
“There is no sense in which we believe that the enforcement of the policy will be trustworthy, dependable and efficient,” says Howard.
KCPD says the policies for protests and body cameras will be available for public viewing in the next couple of weeks.