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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Gwendolyn Grant, president of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, says the current Board of Police Commissioners is “taxation without representation.”

“The only pathway for us to secure local control is either through legislative action of the Missouri Legislature or a statewide ballot initiative,” Grant said. 

Grant said the only other way she could try to make KCPD locally controlled is through litigation, and that’s exactly what she did.

She filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the police board. She said the board previously filed a motion to dismiss her lawsuit, but on Tuesday, a Jackson County Circuit Court rejected the board’s argument. 

“I believe that my action sets the stage for us to litigate this antiquated system of control, this government overreach through the Missouri court system,” she continued.

Kansas City is the only city in Missouri that does not have local control of its police department. Instead, a five-member board runs the Kansas City Police Department. Four of the members are appointed by the governor, including President Mark Tolbert. The fifth board member is the mayor, currently Quinton Lucas.

“This just happens to be this particular instance where we have a Black mayor and a Black member of that board. This is not the norm,” Grant said.

“If you look at the longitudinal track record, the majority of the individuals who have been appointed by the governor have been white male lawyers who live west of Troost, so we have not been equitably represented on the board.” 

The Board of Police Commissioners is not commenting right now. A motion hearing and the bench trial won’t take place until next year.  

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