A Department Gutted

Last Thursday, in a carefully orchestrated and timed bit of political theater, the Jackson County prosecutor and the Kansas City mayor teamed up to effectively gut the Kansas City Missouri Police department of their ability to safely and efficiently carry out their jobs on the streets of Kansas City on a daily basis.

A protracted attempt by the mayor and the county prosecutor to co-opt and second guess the police department with new paradigms and policies has sent a clear message to rioters and protestors that it’s okay to break the law and to the police department that the city and prosecutor don’t have their backs.

First, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker pandered to the riot crowd in a well-timed announcement Thursday, stating that her office would not be filing charges against non-violent offenders who violated police directives or were in violation of the mayor’s curfew order during the protests and ensuing riots.

Make no mistake, the timing of her announcement, roughly twenty minutes prior to the emergency Board of Police Commissioners meeting, meant she had roughly sixty minutes before the BOPC could respond, giving her sole control over the spoon-fed mainstream media.

Mean Jean even included the web site for the community bail fund in her press release, we’re certain as a “community service.” Just a reminder, it’s an election year and this time around JPB has an opponent so don’t expect this kind of pandering from the prosecutor to cease any time soon.

Next up, the mayor, at his 1 p.m. Thursday press event, repeatedly promised dialogue with the police, stating there’s room for improvement in community-police relations.

The Mayor then went into the Council legislative session, where public dialogue or testimony is not taken, by the way, and came out with five points that essentially gut the department’s ability to keep the public safe. Those five points also put officers’ lives in jeopardy as they now have to second-guess themselves even more during split-second, life and death situations on the street.

During that legislative session, Councilman Brandon Ellington introduced an ordinance, number 200390 for the record, that drops charges against anyone cited during the protests and riots. The icing on the proverbial cop-hate cake came when The Nelson-Atkins Museum relayed via a news story that they didn’t want the police staging on their property because it was a “bad optic.” Then Children’s Mercy Hospital jumped in, releasing an email that encouraged their employees to not call the police in critical situations because of the potential for violence.

This thin blue line-supporting News Dog has had enough of the cop hate. As a former neighborhood association president, the partnership that we developed through the Northeast Mobile Crime Watch and KCPD were crucial in reducing crime in our community by double digits. We’ve had the opportunity to work with some top shelf individuals during that thirty year span and we can count on one hand with three or four fingers left over the number of bad-apple officers we’ve worked with. Additionally, we’re also aware of a number of discipline actions against officers whose use of force was deemed excessive, a couple of which ended with jail time for the accused officer.

This News Dog has known Chief Rick Smith for coming up on a decade and there’s no fairer person of integrity to have in the top cop’s position than he. He’s a cop’s cop who doesn’t have a problem with telling things exactly like they are, regardless of whose agenda-driven snowflake feelings get in the way. The protracted decisions of the mayor, council and prosecutor to not support their officers in the field will directly and negatively impact the department’s ability to retain and recruit good cops moving forward.

Here’s the bottom line in this ongoing political drama: The parallels between the current situation in Kansas City and the VietNam war are stark. Like Congress during the VietNam era, City Hall and the county prosecutor have taken the decision-making ability away from the police officers and supervisors on the front lines, and moved it squarely into the center of the political arena during an election year. And just like VietNam, those protracted political decisions will make citizens less safe and ultimately cost lives.

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