KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Changes in the ways police operate and are governed may be coming after dozens of urban clergy gathered Wednesday to demand reforms.
The ministers expect changes to be implemented within the next 90 days.
There were two police commissioners, including the mayor, present as about 50 urban faith leaders made five demands for reforms in the Kansas City police department.
The ministers want police to stop using pepper spray on peaceful protesters on the Country Club Plaza.
The community leaders want Kansas City to establish a truly independent police review board within the next 90 days.
Currently, the city has civilian oversight of the office of community complaints, but all complaints are still investigated by police officers.
Ministers are demanding local control of the police department saying that the current state-appointed board of police commissioners does not adequately represent citizens living the urban core, particularly the third and fifth council districts.
Church leaders fear Kansas City police will be among the last to start wearing body cameras. They say that needs to happen as soon as possible.
And the ministers want police to engage in more community programs within the city’s most crime-ridden neighborhoods.
“We demand that you allow us to protest peacefully, legally and without being watched like children, but heard as citizens,” said D’Eric Fields, minister at The Refuge KC. “We are demanding to be heard and understood. Yes, we love hip-hop. Yes, we have our tattoos. But we are also educated.”
Two police commissioners were present to hear the demands. Mayor Quinton Lucas, who also serves as a police commissioner, told FOX 4 he only needs one more vote on the five member police board to start making these changes.
He says both police and protesters claim to want more accountability and less excessive force. The mayor says it’s time to start making that happen.
“There was a fairly significant police budget passed this year,” Lucas said. “In excess of $240 million.
The question is going to be: Where are our priorities within it? That’s some of the work we need to do.”
Lucas says the public should expect to see a push to start spending police funding on body cameras.