KC police chief responds to ICE arrest, viral video and controversy

KC's 45th police chief, Rick Smith

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith is defending his department’s actions in a blog post after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest shared to Facebook sparked nationwide controversy.

“We know this incident puts us in the middle of a national debate, but our job is to focus on how KCPD personnel can best serve the people of Kansas City,” Smith said in the post. “We believe the presence of KCPD personnel was a stabilizing factor in this incident.”

ICE raids were planned on July 21 to target around 2,000 migrant families who had been ordered removed by an immigration judge. After the raids, President Trump announced 35 suspects had been arrested.

One of those arrests happened in Kansas City.

In the video, taken by the arrested man’s partner, you see an ICE officer break a car’s window and pull Florencio Millan-Vazquez out of the car, bringing him to the ground. KCPD officers are seen assisting the federal agents.

“We would assist any local, state, or federal law enforcement agency who faced the same situation and had jurisdiction in our city,” Smith said in the post. “Responding KCPD personnel made many attempts to de-escalate the situation. You can see in the video the very respectful way the primary sergeant at the scene spoke with the man in the car and with his family after the arrest. His calming presence is part of the reason that KCPD officers respond to assist outside agencies. Our officers know their communities.”

However, several high-profile Missourians are raising questions about the nature of the arrest. U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver of Missouri said on Twitter he’s concerned about the use of force and trauma to the children.

An ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer said the officer’s actions were justified. Michael Sharma-Crawford, an immigration attorney said the government already has a deportation order on file and the right to remove an illegal immigrant from the country if they’ve been previously deported.

Smith said in his post that the KCPD officers did not initiate the stop and did not physically remove Millan-Vazquez.

“We will continue to review this and similar situations to ensure the process of continuous improvement to the service we provide,” Smith said.

Read his full blog post here.

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