Call to change police reform process draws objection from urban core minister

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Presbyterian church council’s call to remove police Chief Rick Smith is drawing objections from some urban core ministers who said they’ve been working with police to improve community relations.

The Heartland Presbytery called for Smith to be removed last week, saying that the council is “not anti-police, but anti-process.”

Pastor Darron Edwards objected to criticism of the police reform process in Kansas City.

He founded a church group called Getting to the Heart of the Matter.

Edwards said ministers in his group have met with police in three patrol divisions so far this year, and he claims that changes are happening on the streets.

But Edwards could not cite one example of how police may now be interacting differently with citizens they meet.

“What’s happening now is that we are at the table,” Edwards said. “This, to my knowledge, has not happened in a very long time. It’s now that we are at the table, that we expect to see changes in the streets. We demand to see changes in the streets. We want to see changes in the streets.”

Edwards said Getting to the Heart of the Matter is very interested in making sure police officers wear body cameras.

So far, the monitoring devices have been rolled out in at least three of the six police patrol divisions.

The Rev. Dee Cooper, interim executive of Heartland Presbytery, declined an interview request, saying the church council stands by its clarification, which says in part: “We want to reaffirm that the intention and spirit of our letter was to ensure that a transparent process of reform occurs.”

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