Police sound alarm as city council considers delay for new Jackson County jail

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police are raising concerns about where they’ll put prisoners next month, as the city council considers slowing down the process for building a new jail.

A joint council committee Wednesday failed to advance a proposal to begin design work for a new city jail.

On June 25, the city can no longer house 275 prisoners in the Jackson County jail because of an intergovernmental dispute over costs.

The city council recently approved a short term fix, which would send up to 110 municipal prisoners to Johnson County, Mo., to serve their sentences, and create only 25 beds locally as a temporary short term jail near Truman Road and Campbell Street.

Kansas City police currently have 100 beds in the Jackson County jail for short term prisoners, who are awaiting court appearances or the ability to post bond.

Police told the committee Wednesday they’re not sure they can keep the city safe with so few beds.

“What do we do with people on a day to day basis?” Maj. Doug Niemeier of the KCPD asked. “We’ve had 100 beds to this point. We’re going to get 25. So when citizens call and say, ‘I have this issue.’ We only have 25 beds. We have nowhere to put someone. So are we going to signature bond the person who assaulted you and say, ‘I’m sorry ma’am, sir, I know you got assaulted. We’re going to write a ticket.’ We’re going to release them and they’re on the street.”

A city staff recommendation to spend $300,000 to begin design work for a new jail was tabled by the committee because the consultant was not selected through a competitive bidding process.

The council will vote Thursday on whether to approve an eight week delay so that staff can review competitive bids for new jail options.

In the meantime, other short term options may have to be considered.

Police say it’s not unusual for a large disturbance to result in multiple arrests, which would quick fill the temporary short term jail.

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