Groups in Kansas City calling for independent citizen review board to investigate police use of force cases

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In the midst of ongoing talks about police reform in Kansas City this week, one idea keeps being repeated – establishing a truly independent citizen review board. 

Have an issue with how you were treated by Kansas City Police? You can fill out a form and send it to communitycomplaints@kcpd.org

But it’s what happens after you email it to the Board of Police Commissioner’s Office of Community Companies that has many questioning whether it’s truly an independent review. 

“I appreciate the people who do the work at our Office of Community Complaints, but my view is we have to have something truly independent. Community complaints eventually go back to the Board of Police Commissioners,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said.

If the complaint is deemed appropriate for investigation it is forwarded to KCPD Internal Affairs. After the department investigates its own officers, final analysis is sent to the Board of Police Commissioners and/or the Police Chief to determine if an officer should face discipline. 

“I would like the Office of Community Complaints to be completely independent as well,” local community activist Justice Horn said.

“That independent review board needs to have some sort of authority,” St. James UMC Pastor Emmanuel Cleaver III said.

Since the murder of George Floyd, the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement has been in contact with 150 communities across the nation looking to strengthen police oversight. 

“You want strong oversight, oversight that can come in and look at everything and have unfettered access to as much information as possible,” NACOLE President Susan Hutson said.

“A lot of people just want to have a dashboard of data on police community interactions are there complaints about excessive force are there issues with officers. Other cities have that Kansas City doesn’t,” Lucas said.

But Kansas City’s Police Chief, says the city’s system is already a model for civilian oversight.

“I can’t tell you the number of inquiries our Department had from other police departments about our system and how they could emulate our system in another city. Now can it be better absolutely, we can always look at things and be better. But we’ve heard time and time again people want civilian oversight and we have that here,” Chief Rick Smith said. 

KCPD said one of the recent improvements is the ability to file complaints online. They’ve also created an anonymous system for officers to report inappropriate or dangerous behavior by other officers. 

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