Bill reducing residency requirements for Kansas City Police employees heads to governor’s desk

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A bill that would reduce residency requirements for employees of the Kansas City police department and prevent officers from using chokeholds on suspects headed to the governor’s desk Thursday.

If Gov. Mike Parson signs it, Kansas City’s Board of Police Commissioners would be allowed to set a rule allowing department employees to live within 30 miles of the city limit.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said he does not support the residency requirement portion of the police reform bill.

“I thought it was a reckless decision,” he said. “I think it will lead to more political upheaval for us and I think it’s incredibly regrettable.”

He said the change is not only harmful to the community but will create some other changes for the department.

“You will probably see city council react in any number of ways relating to take-home vehicles, which I don’t think should be parked 20 miles outside Kansas City,” Lucas said.

Lucas said it damages the safety of the city and drives a wedge between the community and the police department at a time when we need to build bridges. 

The mayor wasn’t the only one speaking out against the bill. Many local activists also worry about what it could do to police-community relations when officers live 20-30 away.

“There are good parts of this bill, but the majority of this, it’s a bad bill, especially when we look at Jackson County residents, as well as Kansas City residents. I think looking at the state as a whole, Kansas City loses in this bill,” Kansas City activist Justice Horn said.

Supporters said it would provide officers a better work-life balance. They believe it would also help bring in new officers. 

The Kansas City Police Department released the following statement:

“We generally do not comment on pending legislation. We will continue to comply with the laws as well as the directives of the Board. If changes are made, we will adjust at that time. Relationships in Kansas City communities are important to our department and we remain committed to building and cultivating those relationships.”

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