Community groups weigh in after KCPD chief announces plan to retire

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One day after Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith confirmed plans to retire sometime in 2022, the focus begins shifting to future leadership.

Community groups and individuals are starting to weigh in on what type of leadership they’d like to see.

“I hope they’re not bias when it comes to people’s gender, people’s races, people ethnicities,” said Whitney Lawson, a Kansas City resident.

Late Tuesday evening, Smith told FOX4’s John Holt he would be retiring in 2022.

“We demand to be at the table when the selection process begins,” said Pastor Darron Edwards, co-founder of Getting to the Heart of the Matter. “We want to be at the table. We’re not just listing these and offering these as sheets of paper.”

Edwards said he recently met with other community activists and current police officers to come up with some requirements for the next chief.

Those include the following:

  • Must have a background in dealing with diversity in the communities.
  • Guardian mentality with all communities.
  • Open door policy to the community and leaders and willing to listen and respect all voices.
  • Offers bottom up out of the box solutions and strategies within the department handling community issues.
  • Believes in financial transparency of the police department.
  • Believes in holding bad characters in the department accountable.
  • The next chief must come from out of state (including Kansas). 
  • Every resume from within the current department needs to be rejected.
  • The next chief should have a documented history of building community engagement, partnerships, and community involved accountability boards.

“We want to make sure that the top cop comes in with a guardian mentality and then works through the years to change that culture from warrior mentality to a guardian structure where we believe people feel protect and serve is not only north of the river, but south of the river as well,” Edwards said.

Edwards said when the Board of Police Commissioners start the selection process, they need to hear from people on the city’s south side that have encounters with the police often.

Others hope the board picks a new chief with good intentions.

“Make sure they don’t pick someone based off of politics and based off of money,” Lawson said.

FOX4 reached out to the board about the process on selecting a new chief and didn’t hear back from them. We know from previous experiences that in the past, the board has held community forums to introduce two police chief candidates.

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