KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — The battle over the budget for the Kansas City Police Department is headed to court. A lawsuit has been filed challenging the plan to shift millions of dollars.
It comes after another closed door meeting by the Board of Police Commissioners.
The board voted to take legal action against Mayor Quinton Lucas by a 4-1 vote. The meeting started about 10 a.m. Friday and was voted to be a closed session about a minute later.
Lucas was the only person on the board who voted against closing the meeting. He also voted against taking legal action.
This is about two ordinances passed last week that is taking around $42 million from KCPD’s budget and using it for a special fund geared toward crime prevention.
The lawsuit points out a budget was previously passed and approved. It claims the new plan violates state law which grants the Police Board of Commissioners “exclusive management control.”
It claims the new plan has serious consequences for the current operating budget and cuts will be needed.
It names the mayor, city council members who voted for the plan, City Manger Brian Platt, Director of Finance Tammy Queen and the city as Plaintiffs.
Lucas immediately responded about the need for some level city control saying the “status quo is killing us.”
Lucas welcomes the court challenge saying the court will now evaluate the wisdom of Jefferson City controlling police in Kansas City.
Lucas also denies many claims in the lawsuit including the allegation that immediate police cuts will be needed.
Bishop Mark Tolbert, President, on behalf of the Kansas City, Missouri Board of Police Commissioners, issued this statement:
“While I understand the frustration of the Mayor, the City Council and some citizens of Kansas City, Missouri, I also understand that we must abide by the laws enacted by our Missouri Legislature.
In March 2021, the City appropriated funds for the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department’s operating expenses for the year. An unexpected $42 million change to our budget risks a disruption in services to our citizens.
I ask that the Mayor and the City Council withdraw the two ordinances at issue. Otherwise, the Board of Police Commissioners will be forced to continue pursuing injunctive relief in order to fulfill our duties as outlined by the Missouri Legislature.
The Board of Police Commissioners stands ready to negotiate next year’s budget, and we hope to continue dialogue with the Mayor, the City Council and other stakeholders. Our goal is to work together to strengthen and improve the services we provide to the diverse population of Kansas City, Missouri.”
Lucas issued this lengthy statement on Friday:
“My friends, this week we have already lost three more of our brothers and sisters to homicide. We are in an epidemic of violent crime, with record breaking murders year after year. In my life, we’ve had more than 4,000 murders in our city—a larger population than any high school in this region and this state—all lives lost and lost far too soon.
Despite that, the Board of Police Commissioners has met twice this week, quickly going into non-public closed sessions, not spending a minute talking about violent crime in our community and how we can make our neighborhoods safer. While expected, today’s lawsuit reflects a failure— a failure of our status quo—where power and politics get the attention and the energy of our state, not the toll of violence in our neighborhoods and tragedies of human lives.
While the Board’s lawsuit represents a call for the status quo, under the status quo, we have lost kids like LeGend Taliferro. Under the status quo, two people were killed on our streets just yesterday.
Folks, we can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. The status quo is killing us.
As I’ve said before, Kansas City, reluctantly embraces this litigation to shed light on and strike down a system that for generations has been unfair, unconstitutional, and, sadly, unsuccessful.
I appreciate that rather than fixing this in the legislature, a court will decide on whether this system, one that ignores the voices of the people and hasn’t worked for decades, is good for Kansas City.
Over the past week, we have heard many distortions and distractions about the ordinances passed in council last week. This increases funding to the police.
This increases neighborhood involvement in public safety, and this increases my accountability, your elected’s accountability to the victims and the neighborhoods plagued by decades of crime in Kansas City.
The only thing it decreases is the power of Jefferson City to keep looking the other way as our community tries to rid ourselves of these tragedies each and every day.
Over the past week, the City Manager has met in person with the police chief and conversations are ongoing about how the department working with the City can make us safer. To the people of Kansas City and the rank of file of the Kansas City Police Department: we stand with you, we grieve with you, and those of us here in Kansas City will not use your pain, will not use your work to score political points, unlike too many at the state level.
Rest assured, every officer at KCPD today will have a job next week, next month, and next year. We’ve funded a new academy class to have more join you, to support the great work you do in our community. Don’t believe those who seek to divide us when we all have a shared goal of keeping the community safe. I support our law enforcement and know that in this action, we are giving them the tools, the relationships, and the local voices to be safer in this city every day.
Kansas City will fight vigorously this effort to keep our hands tied in solving one of our greatest challenges for decades. Kansas City will fight to shine light on best practices and community collaboration with our police officers, rather than stay in the dark about where taxpayer money goes, what we’re doing, and how the hell we can once and for all get out of this situation. We have a murder problem and it’s getting worse. I’m committed to solving it, even if it takes us going all the way to the United States Supreme Court.
Our lawyers are currently reviewing the filings, will oppose any emergency motions, and will evaluate all Constitutional counterclaims, including that this system undervalues the voices of all taxpaying Kansas Citians.”