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Kansas City Police Get Praise From Commission Looking At Training Standards

Elle Moxley
Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says Jackson County police agencies are doing a good job responding to people in crisis, and more of their policies should be extended statewide.

The Missouri commission reviewing law enforcement training standards stopped in Kansas City Wednesday, the fifth public meeting in a six-stop statewide tour.

Department of Public Safety Director Lane Roberts told the crowd of mostly police officers and sheriff’s deputies he knows there’s concern within departments that the new rules will become unfunded mandates.

“We are extremely sensitive to the potential for affecting budgets,” Roberts said after the director of the Missouri Peace Officers Association testified. “What we don’t want to do is promulgate rules that are unachievable because we exceed the resources of the agencies.”

Gov. Jay Nixon has asked the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission to focus its recommendations on fair and impartial policing, as well as tactical training and officer well-being.

Colleen Coble with the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence says overall, Kansas City is doing a good job to help people, particularly women, in crisis.

But she also pointed to a recent high-profile case across the state where a rape victim who had been drugged was not taken to a nurse advocate, her blood wasn’t tested and her rape kit was lost.

“I recognize that that would be a woeful example in most departments around the state,” Coble said, “but that it happens in one means we have work to do in basic training.”

Coble says the Kansas City Police Department and other Jackson County law enforcement agencies are already using best practices to assess risk on domestic violence calls, polices she’d like extended to the rest of the state.

KCPD Sgt. Jeffery Hughley, who sits on the commission, noted that officers are trained on how to recognize victims who’ve been choked or strangled. They are the most likely to become homicide victims.

“It is a high indicator of lethality, and it only takes a matter of minutes for someone to be killed by strangulation,” said Coble.

Credit Elle Moxley / KCUR
Margaret May with the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council tells the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission how her community perceives police officers.

Margaret May of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council also spoke before the commission. Growing up in segregated Kansas City, she said she had many classmates who still wanted to become law enforcement officers.

“I’m not sure there are very many young African American males in today’s time that say they want to be a police officer when they grow up,” May said. “That concerns me.”

For example, she told commissioners her work puts her in frequent contact with KCPD officers. But their presence in the neighborhood is often met with skepticism.

“The police stopped to talk with us,” May recalled. “The kids literally did like this, ‘Can we stay here, or do we need to run?’”

The commission has a Dec. 1 deadline to send its recommendations to the governor.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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