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Kansas City Police Chief Wants Additional $1 Million To Reduce 911 Hold Times

Elle Moxley
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith addresses the South Kansas City Alliance on Oct. 9, 2016.

Calling 911 hold times “unacceptable” and citing a need for more patrol officers, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith asked for an additional $9.3 million in funding in the budget he submitted to the city manager last week.

In a blog post explaining why appropriations should increase 3.6 percent for the fiscal year that begins May 1, 2018, Smith noted that the average hold time for a 911 caller was 30 seconds in September.

“Our chief feels like – and I agree, we all agree – that it’s unacceptable for someone that’s facing an emergency, that’s calling 911, to be on hold for any time,” says Capt. Stacey Graves, a KCPD spokeswoman.

Hiring 21 civilian dispatchers will cost just over $1 million. The department has also requested $720,000 for 30 more patrol officers, though those costs won’t be incurred until mid-year, after other police academy classes graduate.

“The dispatchers and officers are our frontline,” Graves says. “They are the ones that are most responsive and have the most contact with our residents here in Kansas City.”

Graves says KCPD determined it needed 30 more officers after conducting a staffing study earlier this year.

Smith warned citizens and councilmembers that a lot of the technology police officers rely on is outdated and will need to be replaced soon, though he did not ask for additional appropriations in the coming year. 

“Replacement of the radio system alone is estimated to be $9 million and must happen within the next four years,” Smith writes. “The decision of whether to implement body cameras also will be steered by whether we have updated in-car camera and computer systems that could be compatible with them.”

In total, KCPD is asking for $251,879,047 for FY 2018-19. Last year the city council approved $243,014,663.

Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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