The Kansas City Police Department, Kansas City Fire Department, and the Office of Emergency Management held a press conference Monday, March 23 to address questions regarding COVID-19.
The Kansas City Police Department posted a Frequently Asked Questions resource page at www.kcpd.org with the following questions and answers:
How will you be enforcing the stay-at-home order?
The enforcement of this order really doesn’t fall under the police department. It will be more up to other city entities like the Fire Marshall and other departments like Regulated Industries. We will NOT be stopping people asking to see papers that declare their business as essential or not. We will NOT be setting up checkpoints. We WILL continue to ensure our city is safe.
Whom should we call if we see a violation of the stay-at-home order?
Unless there is a criminal element to it, please call 311, not 911. An example is if you see a restaurant serving customers in its dining room during this state of emergency, call 311. If you see people fighting in that restaurant’s dining room, call 911, just like you always would.
Please also use 311 to inquire whether your business or activity is considered essential if you’re still unclear after reading the order. We’ve had a lot of residents calling 911 to ask if they could still work or go to an appointment, and we need to leave that system open for true emergencies.
Are you changing any of your enforcement practices?
We will continue to ensure the city remains safe and will be responsive to calls for service. At this point, we are responding to calls for service like we always have. We also are continuing to conduct proactive traffic enforcement because speeding is a major factor in fatality crashes in this city, which are nearly double what they were at the same time last year, so we will do what we can to curtail that. We did, unfortunately, have to stop public meetings and programs at our department facilities to protect the health of our employees. We hope to resume those as soon as it is safe to do so.
Chief Smith has been in regular contact with other law enforcement agencies in the metro area, the state and nationally. We are working together to navigate this ever-changing situation and will adapt our practices and procedures as needed.
Are you doing anything different in your jails?
KCPD only operates temporary holding cells where arrestees are detained before either bonding out or going to a county detention center. We have been implementing stricter health screenings in our detention units, but they will continue to operate as they have been. Officers have and always have had discretion. To the extent we can keep people out of jail without posing a threat to the community’s safety, we will.
Is the National Guard coming to institute martial law?
The Missouri National Guard has publicly stated that is not happening, and we have received no information that it will. The decision to deploy the National Guard is up to the Governor. As long as people take this stay-at-home order seriously, there would be no need for additional enforcement.
How are you handling the homeless?
We will continue to work with them as we always have. We know the social service agencies that assist the homeless are really overwhelmed right now, but questions about assistance to the homeless should be directed to those agencies.
Our KCPD social service workers will continue to operate and are in discussions today about the best way they can safely serve the community during the stay-at-home order. KCPD social service workers serve clients exclusively through referrals by police officers.
What kind of scams are you hearing about?
After every large-scale disaster, we see scams come up that prey on people’s fear or desire to help. This pandemic is no different. We’ve warned about malicious coronavirus e-mails circulating. Don’t click the links in those e-mails. Any reports of price-gouging need to go to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. Local utilities have vowed not to do any shut-offs right now, so don’t listen to anyone saying your power or water will be shut off if you don’t pay. Legitimate businesses will never be asked to be paid in gift cards. Be skeptical of people going door-to-door. Thoroughly vet any charity or non-profit or cause you’re considering donating to. And do not give out personal information like your social security number or date of birth.
Are calls for service going up? What about domestic violence calls?
It’s really too early to tell at this point. Our Priority 1 and 2 calls for service last week were down about 4% and 3.5% respectively compared to the same week last year.
If you are in a home where you don’t feel safe, please call us. Also, the regional domestic violence hotline is 816-HOTLINE. Calling that number will get you to resources that can help you with a safety plan and get out of a dangerous living situation.
What are you doing to keep officers safe? Do they have the equipment they need?
We’re working with our local and federal partners through the Office of Emergency Management to procure the personal protective equipment officers will need. In the meantime, we’re working tirelessly to provide sanitation supplies to our members. Businesses have stepped up to help, donating everything from hand sanitizer to food, and we can’t say how much we appreciate that.
How can people help the KCPD right now?
We are asking for the donations of temporal scanner thermometers and masks. You can drop these off at any of our six patrol division stations. We would prefer these items be new in package – especially the masks – but will also accept newly-made, hand-sewn masks, which the CDC has stated are acceptable. We greatly appreciate everyone who has reached out to us wanting to help.