A new face has been added to the Kansas City Police Department’s (KCPD) Community Interaction Officers (CIO). Charmainne Sanders, who has been with the department since May of 2017, is now the latest addition to the Central Patrol Division CIO team.
Sanders has worked in Central Patrol for most of her career, except for one short stint at South Patrol, and is happy to be assigned to her new position in the Central Patrol Division.
“I grew up in Center Patrol, so I’ve always felt drawn to Center Patrol… because I know the area and I’m familiar with the people,” Sanders said.
In 2015, Sanders graduated from the University of Central Missouri. After graduation, she worked in a physician surgery center in Prairie Village, Kan., until she got the call saying she was to ready begin training at the Kansas Regional Police Academy. Sanders was assigned to her new position as a CIO in November after working as a patrol officer for KCPD for a little over three years.
Though this is not the path she always imagined she would take, Sanders said she is excited to see what good she can do as a CIO.
“I love the idea of community policing,” Sanders said. “I think it’s important for police departments everywhere to engage with the community, and not just being that patrol aspect.”
Sanders said she finds it important to show people that police officers are humans just like everyone else, and that they empathize with what people are going through. She hopes being a CIO will allow her to show police officers in a different light to the community.
“Most people when they interact with us it’s on probably the worst day of their lives,” Sanders said. “So, to come over to the community interaction side where I’m going to neighborhood meetings and we’ll get to plan some events for the community, I think it gives people a different view of what the police department has to offer.”
Since beginning her duties as a CIO, Sanders said, she has experienced some of the most humbling experiences of her whole career. She participated in what KCPD calls “point in time.” Sanders said this is essentially a headcount of the houseless in Kansas City in order to know the amount of resources needed for them.
“You know that there are homeless people out there, you see them panhandling, but you don’t really see the way they live,” Sanders said.
By participating in the event, she said she was able to get to know many from the unhoused community on a more personal level. She came to learn their stories and therefore better comprehend why they were houseless.
“It was just nice to talk to them and understand them as people, and not just as a homeless person, because they are still people,” Sanders said.
Looking to the future, Sanders said she is most excited to be able to plan more community events once the weather gets warmer. She hopes to carry on events such as KCPD’s Family Fun Nights, which took place every Friday night during the summer of last year and consisted of family friendly activities for the community to enjoy.
“Usually when we see groups of people outside it’s like we’re being separated from them by crime scene tape,” Sanders said. “And so when you can get out and see little kids in a park light up at seeing a bouncy house being blown up… that’s the golden point for me.”
Another fulfilling aspect of the job for Sanders is the ability to give back to the community she has lived in all her life. Sanders said due to growing up in central Kansas City, she has seen the hardships her community has faced. Now being a CIO, she says it is the ultimate way to give back to the community who has always been there for her.
Sanders’ community outreach does not stop with her police work, either. She is also very involved in her church, the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, where she serves on the Board of the Youth as their treasurer.
This CIO said she cannot imagine any other career path for herself. She is looking forward to what the next 25 to 30 years of her job in law enforcement will bring her.
“When I was younger, the cliche is you become a police officer because you want to help people,” Sanders said. “And that was also true for me, but it’s like you want to not only help people, but you want to show people that they matter.”
For Sanders, the way to do that is to be a CIO for her community, to not only be a bridge between the community and KCPD, but to get out there and make her own impact on a community where she grew up.