KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Three Kansas City council members that represent parts of the Northland are asking Missouri Governor Mike Parson for a special session to address funding for the city’s police department.
Heather Hall, Dan Fowler and Teresa Loar sent a letter to the governor asking for a special session to address what they say is a “dangerous action” undertaken by their council colleagues and Mayor Quinton Lucas to have more control over how the police department spends a portion of its budget.
The move comes weeks after Mayor Lucas and all of the council members south of the river quickly passed an ordinance allowing the city manager to negotiate with the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners about how the department spends around $42 million of the department’s total budget of $239 million. It also includes $3 million for a new recruitment class. KCPD still gets 20% of the city’s overall budget to do with as it pleases.
The ordinance has since been put on hold by a judge after the Board of Police Commissioners filed a lawsuit.
“These actions were taken with no public input and with only a few hours of review and very little clarity on who can request the funding,” Hall, Loar and Fowler said in their letter. “We believe that had proper, open and transparent processes been followed, that should have included the Board of Police Commissioners, much of the controversy surrounding these actions could have been avoided.”
The letter goes on to say that Kansas City needs more police resources to fight violent crime in light of last year’s record breaking homicide numbers.
“Kansas City is a city in crisis. This move only pushes a city we love and represent closer to the brink of disaster. We must move to protect our citizens in the state’s largest city and restore the statutory intent of the General Assembly. In light of the rapidly developing situation, we ask that you call a special session of the legislature to address this dangerous action.”
Proponents of the funding change, like Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, said the move is a push for accountability.
“This is actually just responsible funding of a police department,” Lucas told FOX News. “The difference between Kansas City’s approach and other cities… we’re just shifting funds.”
Some Republicans, including state lawmakers from the Northland have also asked the Governor for a special session, but Democrats say it’s unnecessary and that most of the people calling for a special session don’t live in the urban core.
“It’s clear that these are not people who live in our district, who live in the urban core,” Sen. Barbara Washington, D-Kansas City, said.
For his part, Missouri Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, said there are already a few special sessions in the works, and calling 13 special sessions, as requested by lawmakers, won’t happen.
“We had 13 requests for special sessions. All of these issues were during regular session and we just can’t physically do and we’re not going to do 13 special sessions.”