KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local church group is calling for Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith to be removed from his position. It claims lack of leadership leads to death, loss and heartache, especially for Black and brown Kansas Citians.
The Heartland Presbytery, a regional body that represents the Presbyterian Church in Kansas and Missouri, asked the KC Board of Police Commissioners to consider dismissing Smith, “because we do not believe he is an active participant in a process that moves forward,” Heartland Presbytery Interim Executive Reverend Dr. Dee Cooper said.
Cooper said this isn’t about being anti-police. They’re protesting against a process.
A call for the chief’s resignation was first brought up in the summer during Black Lives Matter protests.
Since then, Presbyterian Church leaders added up the reasons they believe he should be removed as chief. They claim he does not share necessary information with the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office.
“He’s so defending instead of actually creating an opportunity for an examination, for a transparency of an examination process,” Cooper said.
The document sent to the board of commissioners also said he blocks opportunities to “investigate and discipline police officer who act lawlessly, unethically and without proper respect, especially for Black and Brown people.”
Finally, they said he blocks “necessary police reforms, like a ban on the neck restraint that other departments consider too dangerous to use and a zero-tolerance policy for officers who use excessive force.”
“We believe this needs to change,” Cooper said. “Otherwise, we are just perpetuating the violence that continues and we’re not getting to the core of what needs to change and that makes it dangerous for our entire community, but particularly for our black community.”
The Presbyterian Urban and Immigrant Ministry Network said several local civil rights organizations and religious bodies agree with the call to remove Smith, including the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the NAACP.
FOX4 asked KCPD about the claims against Smith and the call to dismiss him as chief. They said, “the chief has no plans to resign.”
“This is a great invitation to him, an opportunity to change, to start to see how we can be a part of creating something new that respects and provides for all,” Cooper said.
Cooper said the church and these groups believe that is not possible with Smith as chief.
The document said not only do they want Smith out, they’re also asking commissioners to hire a new chief, who is not part of the present department, in his place.
FOX4 also reached out to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker about the mentioned “lack of communication” between her office and Smith. Her office said they had no comment.