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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The residency requirement for Kansas City, Missouri police officers moves to the state senate this week. A bill removing the requirement goes before the judiciary committee after house approval. 

It’s a measure Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and civil rights organizations oppose.

“I have Kansas Citians who are saying we want crimes being solved close to them. I have Kansas Citians who want better and closer community relations,” Lucas said. “I don’t have Kansas Citians who are saying we want 1,300 police officers to move out of Kansas City.”

SB53 would remove residency requirements for the Kansas City Police Department

Lucas described the bill as a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He said some parts of the bill make it look nice, but it’s not what Kansas City needs.

Lucas said it damages the safety of the community. 

He said it drives a wedge between the community and the police department at a time when we need to build bridges. 

“This legislation does not save a life, it does not mentor a child, it does not take a weapon out of the hands of a repeat offender,” Lucas said. “This legislation instead, turns a blind eye to the interests of Kansas Citians.”

This is part of a broader police reform bill. Part of the reform bill would ban choke-holds for law enforcement officers.

Lucas recalled the George Floyd-related protests from the Minneapolis area, noting about 90% of their officers live outside city limits. 

“We’re here to stand today saying that this senate bill is wrong for Kansas City, wrong for the protection of black life, and wrong for the various reforms that need to take place in order for all of Kansas Citians, not just white Kansas Citians, all of Kansas Citians to be safe in our own cities,” President of the Southern Leadership Conference Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard said.

Supporters said it would provide officers a better work-life balance. They believe it would also help bring in new officers. 

When asked if the department has an issue with recruitment, Lucas said, “No, it does not. If you’ve listened to the police department the last year, then you would know that they had a full recruiting class before, their most diverse class in history. A moment of success. So therefore, what is this bill actually solving? All it’s doing is creating that greater division that we do not need.”

If passed, the Board of Police Commissioners could set a rule requiring employees to live within 30 miles from the nearest city limit. 

They wouldn’t have to live in the city itself, but they would have to live in Missouri. 

“If a bill like this were to be passed, then you would see every creative tool to make sure that the voice of Kansas Citians is heard,” Lucas said.

The committee meeting was moved from Monday to Tuesday at 9 a.m. in Jefferson City.