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KCPD Announces FBI To Take Reins On Civil Rights Complaints

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Cody Newill
/
KCUR 89.3
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker (left) spoke along with U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson, FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson and KCPD Deputy Police Chief Cheryl Rose about the new agreement, which is meant to foster transparency.

The Kansas City Police Department announced Thursday that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will investigate allegations of excessive force and other civil rights violations by police.

The KCPD and the Jackson County Prosecutor's office signed the unique agreement with the Western District United States Attorney's office and the FBI in September. It allows the FBI to decide whether complaints of misconduct by police officers warrant civil rights investigations.

U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson said she believed it was the only agreement of its kind in the United States.

"The public can rest assured that any and all allegations of excessive force by KCPD officers are being fairly and independently investigated," Dickinson said. "When community members feel they aren't getting the protection they deserve, the profound consequences are lasting."

The announcement comes at a time when citizens in Ferguson, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois have called for more rigorous investigations into police misconduct and civil rights violations.

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said the agreement is meant to show community members that their concerns are being heard.

"We've been trying to find ways to show our transparency," Peters Baker said. "To live up to the notion that all must be held accountable, that nobody is above the law in any circumstance."

Peters Baker said she talked with KCPD Police Chief Darryl Forte, FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson and Dickinson about the agreement for several months, but it was the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime that suggested they announce the move publicly.

Ad Hoc Executive Director Damon Daniel believes the change is a step in the right direction.

"I think it's a great opportunity and a great move," Daniel said. "Especially when you think about the [political] climate across the country. This is an example of what's possible in other cities as well."

Since September, there have been four civil rights complaints against the KCPD. The FBI is currently investigating those claims, though officials declined to give any further details.

Cody Newill is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @CodyNewill or send him an email at cody@kcur.og.