(Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC contributed to this story)
Four Kansas City-area GOP state lawmakers are asking Missouri’s governor to call a special session on the issue of Kansas City Police funding.
The four lawmakers say the Kansas City Council has cut $42 million from the police and transferred it to a community service fund. They describe the change as unprecedented defunding of the KCPD.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) disagrees, saying that the money is being reallocated and that the move will improve community policing.
“There are folks that are trying to scare you and trying to scare the people of Kansas City. We’re here to actually try to make sure we’re doing something new, so the world looks a little different for us and that it’s safer and that everybody is part of it. This will be better for neighborhoods, this is better for community policing,” Lucas tells Kansas City reporters.
The Urban League of Kansas City praises Mayor Lucas and the Council, for reallocating the $42 million to fund crime prevention and community services.
State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs) and three other GOP state representatives who represent the Northland see it differently. Richey says violent crime in Kansas City is at an all-time high, noting that Kansas City had a record 178 homicides in 2020 and that there have been 58 homicides this year. Richey is asking Governor Mike Parson (R) to call a special session.
“So the special session I think would be helpful if it were to be focused upon a statutory response to the recent move on the part of Kansas City’s mayor and the majority of the city council to defund the police department by 20 percent,” says Richey.
Representative Richey tells Missourinet that he’s spoken to Governor Parson, adding the the governor is interested in having an appropriate response to what’s happening in Kansas City.
“He has identified it as reckless and dangerous. I know that the governor has a lot that he has to weigh out, in terms of a (special session) call,” Richey says.
Richey and his three colleagues say Mayor Lucas and the council have moved against uniformed Kansas City police officers, adding that the actions “were taken with no public input and with only a few hours of review.” They say Kansas City is a city in crisis.
The letter to the governor is signed by State Reps. Richey, Josh Hurlbert (R-Smithville), Chris Brown (R-Kansas City) and Sean Pouche (R-Kansas City). Representative Pouche says Mayor Lucas did not include any of the Northland nor Police Chief Smith in the discussion.
Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC reports Mayor Lucas has responded to the special session call, with strong words.
“While I welcome my Republican friends’ newfound interest in the plight of Kansas Citians, particularly in our inner-city neighborhoods, respectfully, our community, my community has been in a violent crime crisis for my entire lifetime. With more than 100 murders per year in Kansas City for generations, we have to work non-stop and creatively to fix our serious gun violence problem, not continue to look the other way as our state Legislature majority has done for too long. Our plan increases funding to the police department while we also as a city and with separate investments are addressing the root causes of crime, like poverty, lack of adequate mental health, and housing instability. Thousands of my brothers and sisters have died on Kansas City’s streets since the 1980s. The crisis has long been here. While new to some legislators, it’s not new to black Kansas Citians. I hope our legislature, rather than using cities as a talking point to appeal to their base, works with us, as we respect our police, our educators and our health care establishment to actually make a difference in outcomes for our city and work with us to make Kansas City safer. For those legislators interested, I am inviting them to join me and neighborhood leaders on a walking tour of our neighborhoods most consistently impacted by violent crime. We all have to work together on solutions to this problem and we all know funding in one area alone will not solve all our problems,” Mayor Lucas’ statement reads.
It’s ultimately up to Governor Parson, whether or not to call a special session.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs), which was recorded on May 26, 2021:
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