KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In an almost pep rally-style town hall meeting, dozens of people spoke against the Kansas City Council’s latest move to change the police department’s funding sources.
The Kansas City Police Department will still receive the required 20% of the overall city budget, but beyond that — this year, more than $40 million — will go to a Community Services Fund that the city manager and police board will have to agree on how the department will use.
Mayor Lucas introduced the ordinances and the city council passed them in the span of one day with no public comment, leaving some residents frustrated.
“The way it was done was what confused me the most and made me know that we were not considered, and I didn’t feel like I was actually being a person here in the Northland,” one speaker said at Thursday night’s meeting that dozens attended.
Since the move, there have been widespread efforts to stop what some call an effort to defund the police. Melesa Johnson, from Lucas’ office, spoke at the meeting to dispel some of what she said is misinformation.
“This is simply not that. I wouldn’t even necessarily use the term reallocate, maybe reroute because unlike what Councilwoman Loar said, in the second paragraph of the ordinance it allows the council to authorize the city manager to enter into an agreement with the Board of Police Commissioners,” Johnson said.
There were a few people who spoke in support of the funding changes, but most of them struggled to speak as the crowd noticeably opposed. Councilman Dan Fowler stood up twice throughout the meeting to scold the crowd and demand respect.
“This is not the Northland to shout people down like that,” Fowler said. “I might not agree with this person, but I still want to hear what they’re saying.”
At the meeting, some of the speakers talked about steps they plan to take to oppose funding changes.
“I’ve talked to some people with petitions. I’ve talked to our state representatives who have asked the governor for a special session. I know the police board is most likely going to file a suit, and the citizens out here are getting very restless,” said Councilwoman Theresa Loar, 2nd District at Large.