Monday, June 08, 2020

After Serving Protesters Some Lip, Mayor Lucas Will Now Slow-Walk Local Control Into Oblivion

                            

kansascity |  Kansas City’s police force remains firmly in the grip of the governor’s office, as it has for more than 80 years. Why? 

Here’s a dirty secret: Kansas City hasn’t really worked for local control. Mayors, City Council members and civic leaders have paid lip service to the idea but have done little to actually make it happen. They like it when someone else is responsible for the police.

Others, including police officers and leadership, have actively opposed local control for decades.
Examples abound, but one will do. In 2011, rich guy Rex Sinquefield wanted to pour millions into a petition campaign to give both St. Louis and Kansas City control of their departments, through a statewide vote. Officials in St. Louis embraced the idea.

Kansas City? No, the city mumbled. We’re not ready. So the measure went to the 2012 ballot, without Kansas City. Missourians overwhelmingly gave St. Louis its police department back.

The next year, then-Mayor Sly James appointed a task force — a bold move, right? — which eventually decided, by a one-vote margin, to recommend continued state control

Four members missed the final vote.

Defenders of state control insist it keeps politics out of the department. It’s a silly claim on many levels, but consider this: Six lobbyists represent the Kansas City police board in Jefferson City. Kansas City’s Fraternal Order of Police has 10 registered lobbyists.

The people in the streets have zero lobbyists, which means protests are important, but not enough.
Last week, likely Democratic nominee for governor, Nicole Galloway, endorsed local police control in Kansas City. “The closer government is to the people the more accountable it is,” she said. And she’s right.

Gov. Mike Parson? Asked about local control last week, his knees buckled. “It takes legislative action,” he muttered, pointing out the obvious but not answering the question. 

Elections matter, Kansas City. If local control is important — and it is — the choice seems clear. In fact, every legislative and statewide candidate in Missouri this year should answer a simple question: Local control, yes or no?

But voting is just one part of the equation. In February, the City Council approved a committee to study local control. “There are likely advantages and disadvantages … if local control of the Kansas City Police Department were returned to the City,” the resolution says.

No. Local control has been studied for decades, and the case is now absolutely clear, and irrefutable: It will bring accountability and responsibility to a department that too often acts as if it’s immune to meaningful citizen oversight. 

On Thursday, the council updated the committee’s task, telling it to “develop options” for local control. It’s an important start. Quinton Lucas, who was endorsed by the Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police, will play a critical role. If he slow-walks local control, we’ll know what’s going on.

Read more here: https://www.kansascity.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/dave-helling/article243359256.html#storylink=cpy