KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Ferguson grand jury's decision as to whether it will bring criminal charges against police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown could come as early as Friday. Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte says that Kansas City will be a safe place regardless of the outcome.
Kansas City police say they are ready for whatever comes after the grand jury return. However, they are betting on a peaceful reaction locally, not because of a grand show of force, but because of the work the police department has put in over the years to build trust in the community.
"It will affect us here because anytime you have something of that magnitude it's going to impact everybody around the nation," Chief Forte said.
He says his police department will be prepared.
"We'll have some pockets of the city where people will protest and things like that, and we encourage them to. We just say do it peacefully,” Chief Forte said.
"Ferguson may explode, other cities, but I think we may have some protest, but it will not be criminal protests,” community leader Alvin Brooks said.
Brooks says it is a different scene in Kansas City than many other major cities around the country.
"I think we have done some things in Kansas City that were not done in Ferguson,” Brooks said.
Namely, according to Brooks, the positive relationship between the community and the police department, which he says can be rare.
"I am surprised the mayor of Ferguson and the police chief in Ferguson didn't see this far ahead, but I am also surprised that the African-American community in Ferguson didn't recognize that they had a problem," Brooks said
"That's why we have community meetings since I became chief the first month or two, and we’ll continue to have them. Because you want to talk and have that dialogue before you have that incident, not after the incident, and you are forced to have that conversation after with a bunch of people that are angry," Chief Forte said.
He says while it is not perfect, he is proud of the relationship he has built with the people to whom he is sworn to protect and serve.
"You know I wake up every day and I thank God for that. When the Ferguson incident first occurred, I didn't call a single person in the community, they starting calling me, still calling me saying, ‘Darryl, what do you need us to do, what do you need us to do?" he said.
He says the police department has a plan in place to keep people safe, but it's not a reaction to the Ferguson situation. His officers have been practicing critical incident training for years. While he couldn't tell FOX 4 the tactical plans, he did say one thing they're doing out of the norm: Putting more commanders on the street after the grand jury return is rendered.
"In case decisions have to be made, and not just patrol division commanders, anyone who's on the police department is subject to be out there at any given time monitoring crowds and monitoring our behavior,” he explained.
Chief Forte says beyond that, police response will depend on how people react to the grand jury decision. He says the police will use whatever force necessary to keep people safe.
“We are a paramilitary organization. We have rank insignia, we have weapons, we have those things so I don't think we should apologize for that, we just need to be responsible when we use those things,” he said.
FOX 4’s Shannon O’Brien asked Chief Forte why Brown’s shooting incited such anger and violence.
"The first so-called witness that gave inaccurate information, and he incited a lot of people,” Chief Forte said. "He incited a lot of people and I think once the momentum started that direction, you couldn't pull it back in."
One thing Chief Forte says isn't being talked about is the number of police officers who are killed every year. He says on average in the United States a police officer is killed in the line of duty every 58 hours. As a result, when officers go into dangerous situations, it is their job to minimize the threat to themselves and the public.