KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s police chief is under fire Thursday for comments he recently made in regards to cases of police violence against black suspects.
In a recent interview, Chief Darryl Forte said he believed unreasonable fear and poor training to be the root cause of police-involved shootings of black men.
Union officials with the Fraternal Order of Police in both Kansas City and KCK, where two officers were recently killed in the line of duty, were quick to criticize the chief.
Scott Kirkpatrick with FOP #4 out of KCK wrote, “How would you pretend to know what was in the hearts of any of those officers. You have not spoken to them, nor you do know them…Your uninformed speculation is just fuel to the fire of those who have already demonstrated a desire and willingness to harm police officers.”
Brad Lemon with FOP #99 out of Kansas City wrote, “The fear that officers feel during critical incidents is real. It is not for someone else to tell us what is reasonable or unreasonable. We make decisions based on the totality of circumstances, and strive to do what is reasonable.”
In his blog, Chief Forte defended his remarks, saying he wasn’t referring to any one incident or police department. He cited his department’s focus to improve training on when an officer should shoot and how to better handle suspects with mental health issues. And he said having positive interactions with the community will create a better understanding between police and suspects.
Chief Forte wrote, “I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments about police-involved shootings of black males…My comments in no way were meant to demonize law enforcement…But police in the United States are facing unprecedented scrutiny, and we have some issues to work through. Talking about those issues may be uncomfortable, but it is needed.”
As Kansas City’s first African American police, Chief Forte has a unique perspective and added he’d love to better explain his viewpoint to anyone who is upset or concerned with his comments.