East KC residents hope patrol division’s new building, crime lab promote partnership with police

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For more than 40 years Michelle Clark and several generations of her family have proudly called their neighborhood near Olive and East 27th Street in Kansas City home.

Now that Kansas City Police Department's new East Patrol Division and Crime Lab have opened just down the street from her home, Clark has high hopes for the facility and the 130 officers who will be working out of the buildings.

"I'm definitely happy to see the police presence because of all the crime. I just want them to work with us, work with the people, the neighborhood groups here and know that yes there's crime here, but we're all not criminals," said Clark.

After four years of preparation and two years of construction, on Tuesday a steady stream of neighbors, ministers, business owners and several city and civic leaders filed through the front door of the new facility near Prospect and East 27th to get rare tours and to gather for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Many people couldn't wait to finally see the police department's 118,000 square-foot campus.

"I think it will make a positive difference for our area in a lot of ways, and, I think it will only help increase our property values, " said a smiling Deanna Austin, who was born and raised in the neighborhood.

"I like the fact that those cops will be close to the neighborhood so if people see any bad things happening, they can quickly report them. I also like that it's in walking distance for many of us and you don't have to climb any steps to get here," said Delores Johnson.

Clark admits on this celebratory day she also has mixed emotions as she thinks about the more than 60 homeowners who sold their homes to the city, so that the new police station could be built.

"I am thinking especially about two families I know. They had recently bought their homes, rehabbed them and moved in with their families and then a few years later they had to move out because of the police station, so it was hard to see that they had to uproot. I miss them, " added Clark.

The new police station is named in honor of Kansas City native, political and civil rights activist, the late Leon Jordan. The $74 million facility was funded by using bond sales and a voter-approved quarter-cent public safety sales tax, renewed by voters in 2010.

Some of the features that caught the eye of many on Tuesday were a computer lab, a gymnasium and a community room, which will all be available to the public.

"It really looks great. It's well-lit, has good parking and we can now hold our monthly meetings here and feel safe. I like it, " said Gwendolyn Davis, the President of the Seven Oaks Neighborhood Association.

"Yeah, I like it a lot. It's a very attractive and very interesting place," said Johnson.

Dozens of people also couldn't stop admiring a special "wall" in the new East Patrol Division. It pays tribute to Kansas City Police Board President Alvin Brooks and many other African-Americans and their contributions to the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department since the law enforcement agency first opened its doors.