Kansas City Council votes down proposal focused on replacing police chief

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Council on Thursday voted down a plan that could have applied pressure and hastened the search for a new police chief.

The proposal, in theory, would have supplied funding for a national search to find a replacement for outgoing Chief Rick Smith.

Proposed by 4th District-At-Large Councilwoman Katheryn Shields, the move would have given $200,000, either directly or indirectly, to a national search firm assisting the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.

Although there remains an appetite at the council level to see some sort of movement within the Kansas City Police Department, this strategy was agreed to not be an effective one.

Following brief discussion, the proposal received just one vote in favor and nine against.

The money would have acted like a goad, trying to convince the board to find a new police chief before next year’s budget negotiations between the city and police department.

“He has resigned. We can argue about when he ought to leave, but the fact of the matter is that there’s going to need to be a replacement,” said Shields, referring to Smith.

“We can by this ordinance indicate to the police board that we want them to expediently move forward on a search. And we wish it to be national in nature. And that if funding is an issue we will help provide funding,” Shields said.

But the proposal, presented for same-day approval, was widely met with skepticism given the lack of control.

“I mean, they could basically take the $200,000 and not do a national search,” Lee Barnes Jr, 5th District Councilman-At-Large, said.

“What we’re about to do right now is not only outside of our legal premise cause we don’t have the authority to say that they will have to use a search firm. At all,” Brandon Ellington, 3rd District Councilman-At-Large, said.

While there was no direct discussion about Smith, Ellington proposed alternate routes of pressure — admittedly not as expedient, but less expensive.

“Now if we wanted them to we could compel the mayor to make a motion during the next police board meeting which would not only be germane, it would be 100% legal,” Ellington said.

“If the council wanted to send a message that we wanted a national search firm, we can do that through our elected official and our mayor who happens to sit in this chamber every day outside of today.”

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