Kansas City faith leaders, police continue talks on improving community relations

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local faith leaders and Kansas City Police Department officials continue to meet, as they did Friday, discussing ways to improve safety and community relations in Kansas City.

“We stand together, united to say that we want peace. We always want justice, but we want peace, and we want calm,” said Cassandra Wainright of the Concerned Clergy Coalition.

The group Getting to the Heart of the Matter has been credited with helping to bring many recent police reforms to fruition.

Last month, the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners passed two new policies. One focused on the department’s body-worn cameras, in-car cameras and interrogation video, and the other created procedures for the officers when engaging with protesters.

Group leader Pastor Darron Edwards said they’re now actively involved in building trust between law enforcement and local communities.

“Now we are doing divisional meetings. We are now meeting with commanders in each of the six police divisions around the city. Consequently, what started off small is now beginning to make city impact,” Edwards said.

As the trial against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin reaches its end, there’s increasing concern that Kansas City could see a repeat of last summer’s protests.  

On Friday, faith leaders and police brainstormed ways to ensure future protests remain peaceful. 

“I think that we kind of presented some of the things that came out of the First Amendment policy, some of the things that we heard from protesters last time, and the things we heard from elected officials last time,” KCPD Capt. Dave Jackson said.

Edwards said no matter what the jury in Chauvin’s case decides, his group will be proactive in making sure that any Kansas City demonstrations are peaceful and led by local faith leaders.

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