KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two weeks from Tuesday, there won’t be a jail available for police in Kansas City.
The contract between the city and Jackson County, whose governing body operates the Jackson County Detention Center, expires, and a city council member told police there’s no firm solution yet.
One member of the Kansas City Police Board called this “the least talked about big concern in the city.”
When the city’s contract to use the Jackson County Jail expires in June 25, the Heartland Center for Behavioral Change, a small detention center is one of a handful of short term options Kansas City Police will have for housing defendants.
“The number of beds we have at the combined facilities we have under agreement is not sufficient,” City Council member Alissia Canady told police commissioners Tuesday.
Canady also told Kansas City’s Police Board that city leaders have an agreement with the Johnson County, Missouri lockup to house as many as 25 inmates.
She said the council also asked the KC city manager’s office to help find a consultant to find better solutions. Canady mentioned the council is also weighing use of a detention center based in Nevada, Missouri, which is 90 minutes from Kansas City.
She said she realizes that isn’t an ideal option either.
“It’s going to take time. Our staff has worked diligently on options that are available to ensure we can keep those who are in custody in custody. We have a limited number of beds that are available in that space,” Canady said. “I think the public needs to understand that we are fully aware that this is an urgent matter. Public safety is number one in this city. We are still on the top five list of cities for violent crime.”
In recent months, city leaders have detailed their wishes to build a Kansas City detention center in the near future, but those plans haven’t been finalized.
Kansas City Police Commissioner Nathan Garrett voiced his disapproval of Canady’s encouragement of local judges to be more judicious and considerate of overcrowding concerns when sentencing defendants to time behind bars.
“The options you’ve discussed as short-term solutions are terrible,” Garrett told Canady during Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s not unusual for us to be able to point to scenarios where people have been released for serious things only to repeat those or more serious things yet again.”
Canady mentioned that in some occasions, the same repeat offenders are being arrested by both local police and sheriff’s deputies. Jackson County leaders recently refused to extend their contract with the city, meaning this concern is reaching a critical mass.