KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Just hours after it was introduced, the Kansas City Council has passed two ordinances that change funding for the Kansas City Police Department.
Mayor Quinton Lucas introduced two ordinances Thursday that will drastically change funding for the city’s police department and also establish a new Community Services and Prevention Fund.
The mayor insists this isn’t defunding but reallocating.
“What this is really about is not defunding. It’s about accountability. It’s about doing better,” Lucas said.
The legislation means that 20% of the city’s budget will still go to the Kansas City Police Department, which is required by Missouri statute. That’s over $150 million in Kansas City’s case.
In the past, Kansas City has always budgeted more than that on policing, though. Last year, KCPD’s budget was about $238 million.
But in a city council meeting Thursday afternoon, Lucas and the council decided it was time for that to change a bit.
“We spend a lot of our taxpayer dollars on policing, and my constituents are expecting to have a conversation about accountability,” 3rd District Councilwoman Melissa Robinson said.
Now, anything over that 20% will go to a new Community Services and Prevention Fund that the city and police board will have to agree on how to spend.
The ordinances also provide an additional $3 million earmarked for a recruiting class.
The ordinances were introduced and went on to first readings at the council meeting. Then there was a motion to pull from first readings and move to a same-day adoption, a highly unusual move. The motion passed.
There was no public comment on the matter, and Police Chief Rick Smith confirmed to FOX4 he was unaware of the plan until Lucas announced it and is out of town.
Majority of council members helped co-author the legislation, but four members later spoke up saying they also didn’t even know about the plan until after Lucas announced it.
“We talk about transparency in government. This is not transparency in government. To run this through is government in the dark,” 2nd District City Councilman Dan Fowler said.
“Well, first of all I’m totally against it and I will not support it in any fashion at this point. I’m not going to support talking about it. I’m not going to support where it is because we’re trying to ram something through that people haven’t had a chance to see,” 1st District Councilwoman Heather Hall said.
“So that makes this city unsafe for our children and our families. So the next murder is on your hands,” 2nd District At-Large Councilwoman Teresa Loar said.
Lucas pushed back at that.
“I respect our police department. I like our police department. I — you can say no you don’t, but you don’t know who I am, OK? I grew up, actually, the only man who was like an inspiration in my life — and you know I don’t know my father — was a police officer,” Lucas said.
“Someone just a moment ago said if somebody’s murdered, the blood is on your hands. For those of us who are related to people who have been murdered in this city, for those of us who have been close to people who have been murdered in this city, you know what? It’s not just yesterday that we started caring about murders.”
The move comes less than a week after the Missouri Legislature passed a police reform bill that prohibits efforts to defund police. Any Kansas City effort to change funding had to be finalized before that bill was signed by Gov. Mike Parson.
Lucas insists the plan will give the city more control over the state-governed police department and increase accountability. He said the initiatives will also improve the relationship with the community and make the city safer.
Lucas is expected to sign the ordinances as soon as Friday or early next week. Ten days after his signature, it will go into effect, and the city manager will begin contract negotiations with the police board.
At least, that’s how it will play out if there aren’t any challenges, which are expected.