Business groups push for Kansas City police reforms

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Civic Council of Greater Kansas City is joining the Chamber of Commerce in pushing for police reforms designed to make the city safer and a better place for business.

The two business groups spent a lot of time focusing on the need for independent review of police use of force and all complaints brought by the public.

Since last year, Kansas City police have asked the Missouri State Highway Patrol to investigate all shootings involving police officers. But complaints involving police are still investigated by the police Office of Community Complaints, where police officers are assigned to investigate their own and the results are reported to police Chief Rick Smith.

Because of that, the civic council and chamber of commerce say many in the community distrust the complaint process.

“The investigative arm ought to be an independent arm from the department,” said Joe Reardon, president of the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “They need to be professionals that understand law enforcement. Obviously that’s part of our recommendation. And that their reports and findings should be made directly to the board of police commissioners, who has ultimate authority in these issues.”

The business groups are also calling for the formation of a community advisory council to offer guidance on the complaint process and provide a communications bridge between the community and police.

This is modeled after other cities and Reardon says it would require diverse representation on the council to be successful.

Other recommendations include:

  • Improving dialogue between the city council and police board to find common ground on budget priorities, instead of fighting each other in court.
  • And more diverse representation on the police board.
  • A majority of commissioners often are lawyers.
  • The civic council says a mix of professions may better represent Kansas City.

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