Activists meet with Kansas City police chief about new policies, body cameras

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Activists met with Kansas City’s police chief and mayor Wednesday afternoon calling for further police reform. The meeting follows clashes with protesters last summer during cries for social justice and racial equality. 

Those officers led to dozens of arrests, protesters said were unlawful. How officers should respond is now outlined in a new First Amendment policy. 

“Instead of coming here and acting like they have given us something because they aren’t going to spray us with chemical agents and shoot us with rubber bullets for exercising our constitutional rights. I want them to say they are sorry for doing it in the first place and it never should have happened,” attorney and activist Henry Service said. 

A lot of the frustration has been directed at Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith, with community activists calling for his resignation. 

“He’s not accessible, he’s not someone who tries to actively build trust in the community. It’s hard to access him and throughout a year of protests this is the first time I’m meeting him,” Justice Horn said.

“We all have the same goal here. We all want peaceful assemblies,” Chief Smith said following the meeting at the Gregg/Klice Community Center.

He appeared along with the mayor, and city prosecutor and told community activists he had no plans of resigning. Media wasn’t allowed inside. But we’re told they also discussed an updated Response to Resistance Policy, officer-involved shootings now being investigated by an outside agency, and the deployment of body cameras starting Thursday provided by private donors. 

“It’s a win for everybody, the police officers want them, the community want them, I’m very happy that hurdle was jumped over,” Smith said. 

But community members say they’ll wait to see how the cameras are used.

“I hope they are accessible they are truly a resource for the community. Because if it’s just another policy the community wasn’t a part of and doesn’t trust that further divides our community,” Horn said. 

The meetings could become a regular occurrence in an effort to improve police community relations. 

“My goal is this means we have open dialogue throughout the summer and well into the future about how we can do better in Kansas City,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

KCPD has planned a news conference Thursday morning to talk about the policies for the new body cameras.

Smith said it will often be up to the Missouri Highway Patrol to decide on release of the video in police shooting and use of force cases it investigates. 

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