Kansas City police board prepares for budget talks Wednesday

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Tuesday, the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners set the stage for extended budget talks to take place on Wednesday, looking at what’s ahead for the Kansas City Police Department next year.

This year a judge ruled the police department, which is state controlled, would not be forced to negotiate a portion of its budget with city leaders mid-year. But that issue is likely to remerge during discussions.

Commissioners, including Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas who serves on the board, allowed brief windows into other aspects of Wednesday’s discussions.

“Well you saw elements of it. I mean, right now there continues to be a question for any of us who look at a budget book that says that there is an allocation for 1,413 officers — and we have 1,200 and declining. I don’t understand why,” Lucas said.

Brad Lemon, president of the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police, said during public comment that 47 employees have left KCPD so far this year.

“We think there’s between 25 and 35 people more that are going to leave. I would say he’s incorrect in 1995 numbers. I think we’re probably going to be closer to 1990 or 1989 numbers. 30-to-32 year lows,” Lemon said.

He said he favors retention in this moment, saying recruitment is difficult when competing with what other departments offer.

“Ten-thousand dollar signing bonuses, $8,000 retention bonuses, take-home car programs. What they have in place is unlike anything we have here. To compete against that is impossible,” Lemon said.

Lucas said he also wants pay raises, and it can happen at the same time that the city once again pursues negotiations over nearly 20% of the police budget, trying to assert local control.

“Yeah, the judge actually laid out that that is still on the table for next year. And so I believe you will have those further discussions and negotiations. We understand what our responsibilities are and we understand that funds that go above it are part of a process,” Lucas said.

“We’re hopeful that we work together, not just here mid-year where we can’t afford officers at the airport. I talked to some of our officers at the airport who do great work. I do not agree with them being removed,” Lucas said.

KCPD has plans to add their airport security back into the rank-and-file-police in the northern districts to answer calls for service. However, these discussions appear to be ongoing.

Budget discussions will continue Wednesday at 3 p.m. at KCPD Headquarters. That meeting is public.

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