Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the City Council have proposed and passed two significant changes to the city’s police department in order to better help and serve residents.
Lucas introduced two ordinances Thursday that were passed hours later. One significantly cuts the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) budget and the other creates a new community fund. The city council passed the measure by a 9-4 vote Thursday.
Kansas City must allocate at least 20% of the city’s general revenue (about $154 million) to the KCPD, although the city typically allocates more to the department. Last year’s KCPD budget was $238 million.
Under the new ordinance, the KCPD will still receive 20% of the city’s general revenue, but all additional funds will now go to a Community Services and Prevention Fund. According to Fox4KC, the KCPD will be able to make requests from the fund, but the city manager and the Board of Police Commissioners have to approve the requests.
Lucas told reporters the moves aren’t about defunding the police but reallocating money and resources to provide better services to city residents.
“What this is really about is not defunding. It’s about accountability. It’s about doing better,” Lucas said according to Fox.
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The four city council members that voted against the ordinances say they were blindsided by the measures. Council members Dan Fowler, Kevin O’Neill, Heather Hall, and Teresa Loar all said Lucas withheld his plans until he announced them Thursday morning.
“This is absolutely the worst piece of legislation I have seen since I’ve been here at City Hall,” Loar, city councilwoman for the 2ndDistrict At-Large told reporters according to KMBC9.
Lucas’ ordinances do have some support outside of the city council.
“This is a refreshing change of course,” Gwen Grant, president and CEO, Urban League of Kansas City and member of the Urban Council told KCMB. “It is time that the KCPD be held to account for their inefficient and ineffective expenditures, which have failed to substantively address the proliferation of violent crime in our community.”
Since last year’s Black Lives Matter resurgence amid the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, police departments across the country have seen their budgets shrink. New York, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Milwaukee Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis, and other cities have all made cuts to their police budgets and reallocated the funds, to social services including housing, homelessness, drug prevention, mental health, and broadband internet.