Jul 27 – The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners is preparing to approve a decision Tuesday that will allow officers to live outside the city.
This will include Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas. In those counties and on the Missouri side of the line, officers would be allowed to live within 30 miles of the Kansas city limits.
The move comes following the Missouri General Assembly earlier this year passed a measure lifting the longstanding police residency requirement. The local police board retains the authority to expand the boundaries of where officers, non-police personnel, and reserve officers may live.
Police department policy will be on the board’s approval schedule during Tuesday’s monthly meeting. Measures on the approval agenda are usually passed without discussion.
Mayor Quinton Lucas has lengthy opposed the change and called the repeal of the residence law “unfortunate,” saying the change had nothing to do with making Kansas City or Missouri safer.
Supporters of the measure, including the fraternal police union from Police Forum 99, said easing the residency requirement would aid with hiring and retention.
Prior to the unused state law, sworn officers in Kansas City were required to reside in the city for one year prior commencing their employment, and civilian workers had nine months to move to the city. They also had to live within the city limits as lengthy as they worked for the police department.
During a police board meeting final year, police union chief Brad Lemon admitted to commissioners that some officers were renting trailers and keeping two homes to get around rules requiring them to live within city limits.
Missouri General Assembly
State lawmakers final year approved a measure allowing St. Louis police officers to live outside the city limits. This law was supported by the then Saint. Louis Mayor, Leda Croson.
Kansas City Democrats opposed efforts to lift the residence law this year and included language in the bill that would allow the Police Board to designate officers to live in Missouri.
Senators Barbara Washington and Greg Reiser negotiated and agreed with Senator Tony Lutkemer, a Barkville Republican, on language, which was eventually passed, stating that any residence rule for the KCPD “would be no more restrictive than requiring such individuals to reside within thirty miles of the nearest city and within the state of Missouri.”
“If we have police officers in Kansas City and Missouri patrolling the streets of Kansas City, Missouri, and we’re going to say they don’t have to be Kansas City residents, at fewest we can say, hello,” Reiser said final March. them to move into three neighborhoods and start paying the Kansas taxes.”
Lutcommer said Monday that the law does not forbid officers from living in Kansas at all, and only makes 30 miles outside the city limits within Missouri the most stringent residency requirement the board could adopt.
“It keeps them from being more restrictive than that,” he said. “It does not forbid the Board of Police Commissioners from relaxing those requirements beyond that,” he added.
But Washington said the proposal was “completely inconsistent” with its intent in settlement language, which was to “make sure you live 30 miles inside the Missouri side.”
“We definitely fought against them who live in Kansas,” she said. “Allowing our officers to come from another state also reduces economic development in our communities. They won’t shop at our groceries…their property taxes won’t go to our schools.”
Indeed, she said, few officers live in her East Side district, which has higher crime, and suggested that allowing officers from across the state to patrol would increase the use of force.
“Nobody at Olathe knows how to work with a twenty-three-year-old and with Van Brent,” she said.
Raiser also said the “deal” was to forbid officers from living outside of Missouri.
“I would be very disappointed if they found some technical aspects to go around the legislature’s intent,” he said.
Parsons to sign the bill
Governor Mike Parson is scheduled to formally sign the unused state law Friday at the FOP offices in Kansas City.
Daron Edwards, principal pastor of the United Faithful Community Church, said the policy change speaks to the crumbling relationship between the police department and the community it serves.
“It shows Leader Rick Smith’s disingenuous leadership to listen or even consider the request and guidance coming from local leaders,” Edwards told The Star. “As if Pharaoh would not listen to Moses in this city. Therefore, there must be other means and mechanisms to get Pharaoh out of this city.”
“This is just another sign that the Kansas City Police Department is going to do what it wants to do without considering the local community and what the community thinks.”
Bill Lukic contributed to this report.