Jackson County Sheriff
Incumbent Darryl Forté stepped in as interim Jackson County Sheriff in May 2018, and was elected to the office in November 2018.
Forte joined the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) in 1985. After serving as the first African American Chief of Police for KCPD from 2011 to 2017, Forté became the first African American Sheriff of Jackson County.
According to the Sheriff’s websites, Forté has prioritized community engagement, improved organizational effectiveness and increased internal communications.
His priorities include sex offender registration and compliance, domestic violence awareness and assessment, county jail construction project, coverage of unincorporated areas of Jackson County, courthouse security, and opioid awareness.
Forte hired the first female captain in the department’s history, implemented a domestic violence assessment tool, revised the vehicle pursuit policy to result in fewer injuries, and required Daily Activity Summaries from all department staff.
His educational accomplishments include: FBI National Academy, FBI National Executive Institute, Masters in Liberal Arts, and a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice Administration. Sheriff Forté is a current member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, Police Executive Research Forum, Missouri Police Chiefs Association and the Metropolitan Chiefs and Sheriffs Association.
In June, following weeks of protests against police brutality, Forte proposed a statewide misconduct registry to hold officers accountable for their actions. It would make a record of officers terminated for misconduct or abuse of power and prohibit them from transferring to another agency.
“I want people to know that I’m running because I care, and the department has to be run with integrity,” Forte told Northeast News.
Sharp was elected Jackson County Sheriff in 2008, and remained in office until he resigned in 2018.
One of his priorities if he is elected is to work with and listen to neighborhood and community leaders to better define the needs and expectations of Jackson County’s diverse citizenry, and modernize law enforcement policies to reflect those needs.
He plans to stand up for his deputies and other fellow peace officers when they are threatened or abused when doing their jobs. However, Sharp said it will be a priority to correct or cull the bad apples if their attitudes and actions are out of line.
Sharp’s focus will be on child predators, property thieves and cons who prey on the elderly, which he intends to prosecute to the fullest.
Sharp said voters should cast their ballot for him because he will bring to the job a strong and diverse history of experience in professional law enforcement, and remake the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office into a fairer, more disciplined, more responsive and more humane law enforcement agency.
“Law enforcement is essential in any society that wishes to remain safe and free, but it is how we “police” our community that keeps the collective peace or creates conflict,” Sharp said. “In these contentious times we need more “peace officers” trained to work with people, not against them. I believe that we can effectively enforce our country’s best and most applicable laws without attacking people’s dignity and stepping on their inalienable rights.”
Sharp pledged to be more supportive of the department’s men and women on the front lines, and to offer and provide them with continued training on how to best and most effectively enforce the law in these contentious and changing times.
Sharp is endorsed by Cole County Sheriff Greg White, Worth County Sheriff Terry Sheddrick, Lafayette County Sheriff Kerrick Alumbaugh, Greene County Sheriff Jim Amott, Former Missouri Director of Public Safety Drew Juden and La Raza Political Club.
Jackson County Prosecutor
Jean Peters Baker
Incumbent Jean Peters Baker was appointed as Jackson County prosecutor in 2011, and elected to the position in November 2012.
She was previously a Democratic member of the Missouri House of Representatives representing District 39 from January 2011 until May 6, 2011, when she resigned to accept her current position. Baker is the second woman elected to the office, hired as an assistant prosecutor by the first, now-U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Throughout her career in the prosecutor’s office, Baker has served in Sex Crimes and Child Abuse, Community Justice, Domestic Violence, Drug Enforcement, Family Support, Major Crimes and as Chief Warrant Officer. She also served as the coordinator of the Drug Abatement Response Team (DART), which earned her the Excellence Award for Advancing COMBAT Objectives. She also received honors as Rookie Attorney of the Year and Victim Advocate of the Year.
Baker was educated at Columbia College, the University of Missouri, where she earned a master’s degree in public administration, and UMKC School of Law.
Recently, Baker’s office launched a new web page to report police officer misconduct and excessive force. She also denounced Kansas City’s charging non-violent protesters following recent protests against police brutality.
“Any prosecutor must support an individual’s constitutional right to protest,” Baker said. “My responsibility was in charging those who committed property damage or looted stores during or after those protests. The constitution does not protect that behavior.”
Baker’s office filed four cases related to protests, including burglary and theft cases against individuals who participated in looting on the Country Club Plaza.
Addressing and building legitimacy within the criminal justice system is a huge challenge for every prosecutor in America, Baker said.
“One way to build legitimacy is by adding transparency to decision-making within the office,” she said. “That can be done in a variety of ways, including issuing annual reports, issuing decline letters on cases of public importance, and listening to the community. I am creating two advisory boards to shape future policy decisions for the office and to listen to their concerns. Regarding the rising violent crime rate, I have formed a crime strategies unit to create data-driven responses to violent crime.”
Regarding negotiating plea bargains, Baker said for a system to function properly, both avenues need to be available.
“There can be instances of improper bargaining, however, a plea bargain is generally weighted on the quality of admissible evidence available in a case,” Baker said. “I have tried over 70 cases during my tenure as an assistant prosecutor and the Prosecuting Attorney. Having the skill and ability to try cases before a jury or judge is a critical function of what a prosecutor does and I am grateful for those experiences.”
Baker works with multiple law enforcement agencies throughout the county, and said each one is different.
“Each police agency deserves a prosecutor who will defend them when needed and hold them accountable when needed,” Baker said. “That duty makes a prosecutor’s job difficult at times, but those relationships cannot be defined by a single case or experience. Many law enforcement officers may feel that the world has turned on them from the protests that have been held in large and small towns across American over the past 6 weeks. Some prosecutors share that view, resulting in a defensive posture. Though these moments are challenging, I view them as an opportunity to make changes that are supported by the broader community – resulting in better relationships and trust going forward. With stronger relationships and more trust, fewer individuals are victims of crime and communities will support the criminal justice system as a whole.”
Republican candidate Tracey Chappell has served as a senior assistant county counselor for Jackson County, city prosecutor for Blue Springs, criminal defense and civil litigator.
Chappell has served as a consultant to businesses on preventing workplace harassment, bullying, discrimination and diversity inclusion. As the Special Representative for the Missouri Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel, she investigated Bar complaints against attorneys.
In 2018, Tracey Chappell was named the first African American woman to serve as Prosecutor of Blue Springs. Under her leadership, the office now has its first diversionary program for first-time offenders.
Chappell earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Jacksonville State University before moving to Kansas City to attend the UMKC School of Law.
Chappell is a member and has served on committees for the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Jackson County Bar Association, Black Female Attorneys, the Association for Women Lawyers of Kansas City and the Greater Kansas City Women’s Political Caucus, where she earned the Torch Award. She was a graduate of Mid-American Regional Council’s (MARC) 2011 Leadership Academy and Leadership Essentials programs to train government leaders.
Chappell has six priorities for the Prosecutor’s Office: increasing transparency and accountability to reestablish the public’s trust in the Prosecutor’s Office; developing more alternatives to incarceration by prioritizing diversion programs, especially expansion of mental health courts; protecting the rights of victims and ensuring their voices are heard; using the Prosecutor’s power to end mass incarceration; bolstering preventative efforts, while working intimately with the community, to deter crime and reduce recidivism; and ensuring that charges, plea bargains and sentences are fair and just.
She said the “good” police officers she has spoken to want the “bad” officers to be held accountable for their actions.
“There is a new law and order that’s coming,” Chappell said. “That new law and order is saying that everyone must be accountable for their actions, including the prosecutor’s office… Violence will not be disregarded.”
Challenges she is prepared to face in office are the budget, the creation of an Integrity Unit, and trust. Chappell pledged that she would look into the charges in cases of Kansas Citians killed at the hands of police if she is elected.
In regards to charges being brought against nonviolent protesters by the Kansas City Prosecutor’s Office, Chappell said that nonviolent cases would be dismissed except that property crime and violent assault would be charged in accord with the laws on the books.
Chappell views the most significant issues in this race to be mass incarceration, eroding relationships with law enforcement, abuse of process in grand juries, bringing back preliminary hearings, irregularities in defense discovery and the increase in violent crime.
“Defendants all have a right to a jury trial protected by the Constitution; however, I would reinstate the preliminary hearing to test the credibility of evidence at earlier stages in the litigation to reduce holding prisoners throughout their waiting period,” Chappell said.