KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The massive budget cut to the Kansas City Police Department voted on by Mayor Quinton Lucas and the City Council is receiving vast criticism across the state – most recently from Northland Kansas City state representatives.
State Reps. Josh Hurlbert, Chris Brown, Doug Richey and Sean Pouche sent a letter to Gov. Parson on Wednesday to request a special session in response to the “unprecedented defunding” of the Kansas City Police Department.
“Kansas City is a city in crisis,” the letter read. “This move only pushes a city we love and represent closer to the brink of disaster. As a State, we must move to protect our citizens in the state’s largest city and restore the statutory intent of the General Assembly. In light of the rapidly developing situation, we ask that you call a special session of the legislature to address this dangerous action.”
Every city is required by state law to allocate a minimum of 20% of their general revenue to police and law enforcement, but most cities allocate more than the minimum to better assist their police departments. Last Thursday, the City Council approved Lucas’ proposed budget cuts to take all additional funding above the minimum 20% and put it into a separate fund for other purposes – a total of $42.3 million cut from KCPD’s budget.
“There is a new financial crisis now that’s been created by the Mayor when it comes to providing public safety for Kansas City at a time when violent crime in Kansas City is at an all-time high,” Richey said. “This is more than wrongheaded on the part of Mayor Lucas.”
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith and other police groups have recently expressed their frustration with the Mayor and City Council as KCPD was already on a hiring freeze due to lack of funding prior to the budget cuts.
Many claim these cuts stem from the BLM “Defund the police” movement that has spread across the country in recent years – and opponents believe defunding police departments will be detrimental to public safety.
“If we think cutting funding to the police department is somehow going to make our streets safer, that’s totally crazy,” Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer said.
The criticism and calls to action caused by the budget cuts don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon, and it looks like certain lawmakers are going to do everything they can to stop the reallocation of funds away from KCPD. Kansas City residents can expect more news to follow about the potential special session as efforts to restore the funding for KCPD steam full ahead.