KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Retiring Police Chief Rick Smith said farewell to the city Tuesday afternoon at the end of the Board of Police Commissioners meeting. He got emotional when he started talking about his coworkers.
“Our department members… Sorry,” he said, choking up while speaking to the board. “They do a fabulous job… I’m very honored to get to lead those men and women… and I appreciate what they do every day, and I wish the community could see as we see them as trying to be a positive aspect in this community all the time.”
Smith also spoke to the media after the meeting was over, but no hard questions were allowed from reporters.
The chief has been criticized since the racial protests in the summer of 2020 along with officer misconduct situations within the department. Smith said the public does not see enough of the hard work officers put in day in and day out.
“I don’t see the help side of it,” Smith said to the media Tuesday. “I know people want to criticize us about other things, but every day, we go out there and help way more people than we ever enforce. The enforcement is a fraction of what we do, and it’s about helping people every day, and I hope people see that.”
Smith said he’ll let other people decide whether he left the department in better hands now than what it was in when he began. He hopes the next chief, whoever that may be, will leave the department in better shape than how he left it. Regardless, he wants people to know the job of an officer is hard.
“It’s challenging. It’s a challenging time for policing,” Smith continued. “I know many people are very dedicated to the cause and are going to finish out their careers. I know many other people are questioning about why they’re here and why they’re in uniform, and that’s not just here. That’s across the nation.”
Smith retires Friday, the board has a meeting that morning where Interim Police Chief Joseph Mabin will be sworn in. Mabin is not interested in the full-time job though. After closed session, Mayor and Board of Police Commissioner Quinton Lucas said Mabin could be in this new role for the rest of 2022.
A lot of other things happened during Tuesday’s meeting. One involved an audit from the Kansas City Auditors Office. It found that for two months of 2021, one out of five times when officers were dispatched, there was no body camera footage of what happened.
The Board of Police Commissioners also voted to allow Kansas City Police Officers to live in both Missouri and Kansas, no longer confining officers’ residency to one side of the state line.