KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Police officers in Kansas City, Missouri, can now live in Kansas, but other workers in the city must live in Kansas City, Missouri, proper.
Mayor Quinton Lucas was the only one of the five Board of Police Commissioners who didn’t support allowing KCPD workers to live in Kansas.
“It does take us out of concert with every other local government agency in Kansas City at least and would drastically do so including Johnsons and Wyandotte counties,” Lucas said during Tuesday’s meeting.
Even though KCPD workers, law enforcement and civilian, no longer must live in Missouri, they’d still have to pay the earnings tax the city takes because they work in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I think the whole point of this thing though is to get more officers and to get more recruits,” Commissioner Dawn Cramer said during Tuesday’s meeting. “This opens up Wyandotte County, which we’re talking about we want more diversified officers, that would give us a pool of another 35,000 of black African Americans and about 49,000 of Hispanics, which I think is crucial.”
Retiring Police Chief Rick Smith said he thinks allowing workers to live on both sides of state line will help with recruiting, too.
Under the previous policy, officers could live 30 miles outside of Kansas City, but only on the Missouri side.
“As one employee said to me, ‘I can live 30 miles to the north. I could basically live in St. Joe, Missouri, or I can live a block to the west. Who’s more connected to this community?'” Smith asked Tuesday. “Someone who is one block off of state line or somebody who lives 30 miles away, which the board has granted as the exception.”
KCPD spokeswoman Leslie Foreman said Wednesday there are more than 100 civilian staff shortages and more than 200 law enforcement shortages within the department. Tuesday, Smith also said his department’s not the only one dealing with this issue.
“I have two articles here that talk about a bill to ban first responder residency requirements in Tennessee that was signed into law and ‘Philadelphia weighs residency requirements for Police and Prison guards amongst staffing shortages,'” he said to the board.
Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police President Brad Lemon said the same thing Wednesday.
“Just this year alone Philadelphia and Memphis ended requirements for recruiting issues,” he said. “The state of Tennessee is ending residency requirements for all law enforcement, statewide.”
The Kansas City Fire Department’s not commenting on the issue currently. KCFD Assistant Chief Jimmy Walker says the department has “no opinion on it.”