Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas proposed several key change measures at the August Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) meeting on Tues., August 25, including changes to the community complaint process and strengthening whistleblower protections.
“The measures I propose will help increase accountability and build community trust — which will lead to a safer city for all,” Lucas said.
The first proposed measure would codify an officer’s duty to intervene or interrupt situations where the officer sees excessive or potentially deadly force being applied by another officer, and would enhance whistleblower protections for officer-on-officer complaints.
The second measure would increase independence for police review, including referring all sustained complaints to the county prosecutor and moving the Office of Community Complaints (OCC) out of the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD).
“Having an internal Office of Community Complaints report structure is problematic as a matter of independence and review as has been seen; thus, I have introduced a resolution that would compel the Kansas City Police Department to transition to an independent OCC framework as soon as possible,” Lucas said. “Currently, the Office of Community Complaints director sends final determination to the Board of Police Commissioners ‘and/or’ the Chief of Police following a review. The review process needs greater independence outside the Board or department leadership.”
The third measure would further reform the community complaint process by extending the time to file a complaint, allowing complaints by persons of any age and allowing third-party complaints.
Lucas said the current policy prohibiting third-party complaints deters the community from reporting misconduct, adding that credible claims where a victim-claimant may be initially unwilling to share their own pain, such as sexual harassment or sexual assault claims, will now see the light of day if a third party can speak.
The final measure would require the BOPC to reopen meetings to the public with proper social distancing measures in place. The meetings have been closed to the public for months. Live streams have been available, but often with technical difficulties.
The measures were planned to be up for debate and final vote during the August meeting, but the board went into closed session.
“While these are positive changes, we continue our work to create a safer community for community members and police officers alike,” Lucas said.
Earlier this summer, Lucas led the BOPC in implementing immediate reforms for the department following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police and calls for local police reform. In the emergency meeting, the BOPC approved several oversight measures, including requiring KCPD to provide weekly updates to the City Council; sending all officer-involved shootings and all major use of force complaints to an outside enforcement agency for independent review; and reversing the policy of not sending probable cause statements to the relevant County Prosecutor’s office in officer-involved shootings.
The meeting can be viewed on the department’s YouTube channel.