4Star Politics: Trying to police the police will impact Kansas City for years to come

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Fallout over the the sudden change to how Kansas City’s police department is funded continued Wednesday.

A group of Missouri lawmakers sent a letter to Governor Parson asking him to call a special session to deal with the issue.

Mayor Quinton Lucas responded and invited the lawmakers, who represent areas in the Northland, on a walking tour of some of Kansas City’s neighborhoods impacted by high crime rates.

Hours after issuing his response, Mayor Lucas joined City Councilperson Teresa Loar, John Holt and Dave Helling, of the Kansas City Star Editorial Board, on the latest episode of “4Star Politics.”

Funding and other issues surrounding the police department is not a new to Kansas City. However this plays out will have a significant impact both short term and long term.

“Kansas City has wrestled with this issue as long as I’ve been a reporter here, which dates back to the mid 1980s,” Helling said. “I do think for better or for worse, Mayor Lucas’s plan has brought it to a head one way or another. And there will be at some point a decision.”

Helling pointed out that part of the issue is that the department has been under state control for so long people aren’t used to the city dealing with it.

“Things, like reallocating money, which are normal practices in other cities seem so foreign to us, because we’re not used to it. We’re used to the council simply riding the track, handing it to the chief and say you do your best,” Helling said.

Mayor Lucas said that’s exactly the point. He said the change in funding doesn’t provide less money to the police department. He points out that it will give the department more funding in the future. Lucas’ point is that the new ordinances will add accountability to the police department going forward.

“It’s actually something that has to be agreed to by the police department itself. It goes to support police department functions, but importantly, police department functions in things like crisis intervention teams, and things like the social workers they already have, 911 responders, and, of course, a new recruiting class,” Lucas said.

Critics, including four members of Kansas City’s council, are upset they didn’t know about the change until the ordinances were announced last week.

Councilperson Teresa Loar is one of those members. She said this issue hasn’t been handled correctly and the council needed input from the police department before making changes.

“I think there probably was a way to work through this, somehow, someway, but the way it was handled was probably the worst I’ve ever seen in politics,” Loar said.

The councilwoman said she thought all funding issues, including funding for police, had been worked out before the city passed its budget in April.

Loar also disagreed with Lucas after he said that he wouldn’t of had any cooperation with the Northland members of the city council anyway.

“He has no idea what the Northland councilmembers would have done,” Loar said. “We may have said ‘let’s not do it this way, let’s sit down and talk about this. Let’s figure out another way to make this happen. Tell me what you’re thinking.’ Because I’m not sure, even right now what he’s thinking, where he wants this month to go.”

Lucas said the money will go into a Community Fund and wait for requests from the police department. The department is the only organization that can request money from the fund.

Loar believes state lawmakers should convene and weigh in on the changes since the state controls the police department. She said the plan moving forward needs to be laid out for everyone involved.

Watch the full episode of 4Star Politics in the above video player.

FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

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