KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has proposed sweeping changes on police funding.
Lucas introduced two ordinances Thursday that will change funding for the city’s police department and establish a new Community Services and Prevention Fund.
Lucas said majority of the members of the city council helped co-author the legislation, but four council members later spoke up saying they didn’t even know about the plan until after Lucas announced it.
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.
Lucas said the plan will give the city more control over the state-governed department and increase accountability for the Kansas City Police Department. He added the initiatives will also improve the relationship with the community and make the city safer.
If approved, 20% of the city’s general revenue will still go to the Kansas City Police Department, which is required by the Missouri Legislature. That’s about $154 million in Kansas City’s case.
Kansas City always spends more than that on policing, though. Last year, KCPD’s budget was about $238 million.
But on Thursday, the mayor’s office said anything over that 20% would now go to a new Community Services and Prevention Fund.
The police department could make requests from that funding, but the city manager and Board of Police Commissioners would need to approve those requests.
The mayor’s office said funding for other programs that previously came out of the police department’s budget will now be paid through a contract. That funding isn’t expected to change much.
The mayor’s office said he does not see this as defunding the police, but instead adds accountability to the department.
The ordinances also provides an additional $3 million for a recruiting class to support prevention, intervention, and community services in a contract with the city.
Listen to the mayor’s entire plan in the video player above.
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith released the following statement about Lucas’ plan:
“I am disheartened Mayor Lucas and the other sponsoring council members did not reach out to the Police Department prior to today’s press conference to notify us of such a policy shift.
“As a member of the Board of Police Commissioners, the Mayor meets monthly with other Board members, Department members and the public. At these meetings, we discuss performance and statistics from each bureau, including crime, budgets, policy and other matters.
“The Mayor and the other sponsoring council members have not previously mentioned this proposal, so our discussions about it are just beginning.”