KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With tensions mounting throughout the country and in the metro the former chief of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is speaking out about racism in law enforcement.
Former KCPD Chief Darryl Forte, now the Jackson County Sheriff, is pulling no punches when it comes to racism, saying it is an uncomfortable topic that needs to be talked about. He is starting by talking about racism in his organization.
“I tell people we are messed up. We have criminal activity going on and no one said anything,” Forte said about the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. “I admit that, we’re trying to change that.”
Forte doesn’t only see racism, but has himself experienced more direct disrespect in his two years as Sheriff than he did in 5 & 1/2 years as KCPD Chief.
“Some of the things going on with the sheriffs office is because I’m a black male telling telling them what to do and they’re not accustom to it,” Forte said.
Forte was appointed sheriff by Frank White after Former Sheriff Mike Sharp resigned when a sexual and financial relationship with a Sheriff’s Office employee was exposed.
Forte said he has been working to clean up what he calls years of corruption within the sheriff’s office and change the mindset within the organization.
“It’s a foundation piece.” Forte said. “We have some great people the Sheriffs Office and I hope some never leave, they’re great people and I put them up against any organization. But then we have some rotten eggs that I have to weed out.”
Since becoming sheriff, Forte has suspended without pay 5 supervisors for serious policy violations, written up over 30 other employees and is stepping up his efforts.
“Something good will come out of this. Something good and already has to me,” Forte said. “It’s inspired me when I watch that thing and I’ll keep watching. I’m thinking, ‘Man just think if they didn’t have the footage what the story would’ve been?’”
The footage Forte is referring to is that of the death of George Floyd.
“There’s no technique that I have ever heard of that you put your knee on somebody’s neck with your hand in your pocket,” Forte said of the nonchalant way the Minneapolis Police Officer allegedly killed George Floyd. “I’m surprised he wasn’t smoking a cigarette, he was just calm. And when you say that over and over, that’s why I can’t sleep at night. Because I wake up saying, ‘You’ve got to do more, you’ve got to do more, you’ve got to exposing people’. And I am going to expose some people. I have to.”
Forte believes one of the problems is bad cops being shuffled from one department to another. He is working on a project to identify employees from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office who are no longer there because of bad behavior, to see how many of them are still working in law enforcement.