KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Jackson County judge today ordered the city to fully fund the police department for the next thirty days.
This despite the fact that many urban core neighbors are supportive of the city council’s action to create a separate prevention and community services fund.
“I think our police, especially in the Blue Hills neighborhood, an urban neighborhood, agree that our police are well-schooled and understand the issues that we have and would funnel those dollars appropriately and resolve issues before, to be proactive as opposed to reactive,” Cheryl Barnes, a Blue Hills Neighborhood Association member, said.
The judge is giving both the police board and the city 14 days to present written arguments, either in support of the city’s funding changes or for maintaining the status quo.
Meanwhile, the city must continue with the budget it adopted in April, fully funding Kansas City police for at least the next 30 days.
Members of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association expressed their support for the city council’s action to use $45 million to create a separate prevention and community services fund. Neighborhood groups want more money for mental health care, to expand services for children who’ve been traumatized by violent crime, and for conflict resolution training.
“When we apply those funds to neighborhoods, we are able to circumvent and prevent crime from happening by starting with young folks very early on and make sure there are all different ways to deal with issues rather than resulting to violence,” Kesi Milligan, of the Blue Hills Neighborhood Association, said.
Opponents have said shifting millions of dollars to prevention and community services will effectively defund police and hamper their ability to respond to 911 calls and solve crimes.
State law requires Kansas City to spend 20 percent of its general fund on law enforcement, which the city says it will provide to police. The appropriated $45 million dollars would be over and above the minimum funding level established by the state.