KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson joined people from various law enforcement agencies around Kansas City on Friday to ceremoniously sign Senate Bill 53, which among other things, relaxes residency requirements for law enforcement officers.
It’s something the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners agreed with and voted to drop earlier this week.
“Giving the police departments an opportunity to go outside the district to recruit is a big thing,” Parson said.
The bipartisan bill allows Kansas City police officers to live within 30 miles of the city on the Missouri. Those in favor of the move said it will help the department attract and retain good police officers and allow officers to serve their families as well as the communities.
“We will continue to protect the city with our lives,” KCPD Union President Brad Lemon said. “We will continue to answer calls for service like we did yesterday, nothing will change. We will still love the city, we will still love the people we work for.”
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas opposes the move.
“We prefer police officers to live in our community. We prefer to have them shopping in our stores, being a part of our neighborhood,” Lucas said.
Lucas believes dropping the residency requirement does nothing to solve crime, improve mental health services or other challenges facing the city.
“I think that we need to build those things instead of building more division,” Lucas said. “This is a policy that stuck around for decades. The fact that it was changed, it doesn’t save a life, doesn’t make anyone safer, doesn’t convene a neighborhood meeting. It just solves, I guess, political divisiveness.”
Parson agrees that there are other important priorities that police department’s need to address like improving community policing.
The mayor and governor also disagree on Kansas City’s mask mandate, which will go into effect Monday, Aug. 2. The governor said he believes the focus should be on vaccinations.