(Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC contributed to this story)

State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs) speaks on the Missouri House floor in Jefferson City on March 8, 2021 (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Missouri’s governor is critical of the Kansas City Council’s decision to cut $42 million from the Kansas City Police budget and transfer it to a community service fund. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) and other supporters of the move say it will improve community policing.

Governor Mike Parson (R) says the last thing that will happen in Missouri is defunding the police.

“You know, I’m a huge supporter of the Kansas City Police Department and to make sure they have the funding and am totally opposed to any kind of defunding the police. And I don’t care how you reroute the words or how you do it, but at the end of the day, right now we need more police officers on the ground,” Parson says.

State Rep. Doug Richey (R-Excelsior Springs) has asked the governor to call a special session on the KCPD funding issue, saying violent crime in Kansas City is at an all-time high. Richey notes Kansas City had a record 178 homicides in 2020. There have been 61 homicides this year.

During a Friday morning interview with Missourinet in his Capitol office in Jefferson City, Governor Parson says he’s reviewing Richey’s request and has not made a decision on it.

“I got his letter. Understand totally what he’s saying. Very disappointed that the (Kansas City) mayor took that action, the way he took that action,” says Parson.

Representative Richey and three other Kansas City-area GOP state representatives want the governor to call a special session to address what they describe as unprecedented defunding of the Kansas City Police Department.

Mayor Lucas defends the city council’s decision, saying reallocating the money to fund crime prevention and community services will improve neighborhoods and community policing.

The Urban League of Kansas City agrees with the mayor and council, for reallocating the $42 million to fund crime prevention and community services.

It’s ultimately up to the governor, whether or not to call a special session.

Meantime, Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC reports the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners voted 4-1 on Friday to file litigation after the reallocation of the $42 million.

KMBC’s Mike Mahoney reports that during the 35-minute closed session meeting, the board voted to sue the Kansas City Council, the city manager and Mayor Lucas to “enforce the board’s rights, responsibilities and authorities under Chapter 84 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri in such form as the litigation committee may deem appropriate.” Chapter 84 is the Missouri law that gives the state authority to maintain oversight of the Kansas City PD.

In a Friday afternoon news conference, Mayor Lucas told reporters the city is prepared to fight the lawsuit all the way to the Supreme Court. He’s confident the city will win the lawsuit.

“The truth is we have a problem. The truth is the city council is committed to solving,” Mayor Lucas tells Kansas City reporters. “And the truth is, Kansas City needs to work together and truly care about how we keep ourselves safe. And there’s another truth, Jefferson City has not worked to make us safer. We are committed to being safer right here in Kansas City.”

As for Representative Richey, he tweeted Friday that Mayor Lucas and the council “have stirred it up,” adding that there are growing calls for de-annexation of Northland KC.

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