JACKSON COUNTY, Mo. — Kansas City remains without a jail nearly six months after its contract with the county expired.
The Police Board of Commissioners faced the ongoing issue again on Tuesday and are hoping for a path to a solution soon.
“We all see this as an absolute must, an absolute priority, a law enforcement priority,” Board President Nathan Garrett said in Tuesday’s meeting.
City and county leaders say it is a priority with no immediate solution.
“We are concerned about how much longer this can be sustained, and then where is the police department, and what position are we in, and how are we going to move forward if things change,” Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said.
In June this year, the city’s contract with the county to house inmates expired, leaving many to be shipped out of the area to places like Vernon County. Others are being held at the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change, a mental health facility not meant to be a jail.
“We have some tentative plans in mind if things happen,” Smith said. “As you know right now, we have patrol division satellites open for detention. Shoal Creek, East Patrol, South patrol, we have Center Zone open for juvenile arrest, and we are staffing to get ready to open Metro if the case is needed.”
City Manager Troy Shulte said he believes he may be able to help.
“My idea, you build a facility big enough to handle the region,” Shulte said.
He met with the Jackson County Legislature on Monday about their open County Administrator position. He believes Jackson County may be able to resolve the issue in time with the assistance of the city.
“I think there’s some regional interest in pursuing this,” Shulte said. “Not to the point that they would want to commit, but ultimately that would be brought back to the legislature saying, ‘Is this something you guys want to pursue?’ I think from the conversations I’ve had across the street, there’s a willingness and an eagerness, and an interest to do something regionally.”
The City Council will be discussing the need for a solution on Thursday in their regular business session.