Buzz: The end of an era

And just like that, the Chief Richard Smith era is over at the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. No fanfare, not even a fried walleye sammich to honor the outgoing Chief that has done so much over a 34 year career for the city and the department.

Sadly however, Chief Smith will go down in history as probably one of the most hated and maligned Police Chiefs in recent history. That is, of course, if the mainstream media, the Urban League and the Black Pastor mob continue their cacophony of hate-speech. 

Leading that charge will, of course, be the Kansas City Star. That once bastion of citizen journalism, The Star has become more of a haven for hard-left editorial pieces masquerading as real news. Hit piece after hit piece has been targeted toward Chief Smith since the violent riots that rocked Kansas City’s midtown and Plaza areas. Yes, they were violent riots. Anyone who thinks differently wasn’t paying attention. A majority of those published pieces were missing a key piece of what makes hard news, hard news, those being facts and truth. Both of which are at the core of the Code of Journalistic Ethics. That said, The Star never let ethics get in the way of a good hit piece. 

This NewsDog is going on record yet again to set the record straight in terms of the positive impact Rick Smith has had on Police Department operations and how those initiatives kept the citizens of Kansas City safer while making inroads in making the best use of Police Resources.

In 2016, while still a Major at Center Zone, Smith rolled out the department’s social worker program, hiring Gina English as the first licensed Social Worker to work with street officers on calls involving issues requiring services often outside the wheelhouse of regular beat cops.

“We are willing to forge nontraditional partnerships that work to decrease crime in our city,” Chief Rick Smith said. “People who don’t have their basic needs met will always look for alternative means. The KCPD is striving to assist with those alternative means, as opposed to criminal means.

That program expanded and now has Social Workers in every patrol bureau in the city. Long time department social worker Trena Miller served the East Patrol community for almost five years before leaving. Now Kevin Wilson holds that position and works daily to effect positive change in some of Kansas City’s roughest neighborhoods.

Another achievement was the creation of the Crisis Intervention Squad in the early 2010’s, Chief Smith oversaw the expansion of the program so that every commissioned officer in the department has successfully completed a two-day, introductory to CIT course. In June of 2021, roughly 40% of all sworn KCPD staff had taken the 40-hour CIT class.

In 2020 alone, during COVID lockdowns, the department’s CIT squad responded to 675 calls for service involving those with mental illness, conducting 464 follow-up visits after those calls as part of the process. In addition, their outreach included contacting the area’s homeless population over 449 times in order to get them help, treatment and housing. As part of the training, they also conducted extensive mental health awareness and de-escalation training for our KCPD field officers and other area law enforcement agencies.

Also during Smith’s tenure, the establishment of the First Amendment Protected Activities Policy, establishing guidelines and procedures for the department when engaging with individuals participating in first amendment protected activities, like peaceful protests. The new policy, crafted after the violent riots, er, peaceful protests during the summer of 2020 states that department members, “will make all reasonable efforts to allow law-abiding individuals to continue to exercise their First Amendment protected rights, and will focus efforts on those individuals in the active assembly who violate the law.” This of course will be swept under the rug, like the inconvenient truth that it is. 

These are just three policy and practice initiatives initiated by Chief Smith during his tenure, designed to make the department not only more user friendly, but better trained in order to better serve the communities in which officers work.

We’ll just close with this thought. If this NewsDog was thirty years younger and my KCPD test results had come out differently, yeah, we took that test, we’d be honored to serve under Rick Smith’s leadership. Especially given the way he stands behind his officers. One look at the Officer Involved Shooting on Van Brunt a few years back and that will show you exactly the kind of Chief Rick Smith is.

Thank you Chief Smith for your service to our community. It’s an honor and privilege to call you a friend. Enjoy your retirement.

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