NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Wyandotte County Community-Police Task Force Member Resigns, Says Action Is Needed Now

053120_ziegler_wyco protest.jpg
Laura Ziegler
/
KCUR 89.3
Black Lives Matter supporters gathered in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, on May 31 for a peaceful protest.

Randy Lopez, a Kansas City, Kansas, school board member, says the task force is solely for listening to the community. He wants to push for immediate reform.

A member of the Wyandotte County Community-Police Task Force, formed by Mayor Dave Alvey this month following Black Lives Matter protests, resigned on Friday saying he wants to retain his right to advocate for action now.

In a second controversy about the task force this week, Randy Lopez, a member of the Kansas City, Kansas, school board, announced on his Facebook page that the panel is designed solely for listening to the community and no direct changes are expected to come from the panel.

“Our community has been speaking loudly long enough; the time for action is now,” Lopez wrote.

Earlier this week, Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree, the first Black district attorney elected in Kansas, told KCUR that he was shocked he hadn’t been appointed to the task force. Although some saw his omission from the task force as racist, Dupree said he didn’t think race was a factor in Kansas City, Kansas, Mayor Alvey’s appointments.

Alvey said he was disappointed in Lopez’s resignation but that he understood his desire to advocate for reforms now. Alvey hopes to appoint a new task force member from the Latino community when replacing Lopez, he said.

The task force was created so county officials and law enforcement can have a good dialogue with the community, and they will advocate for change after that is finished, he said.

“We will go through this process and we will learn and I think it will deepen commitment and that’s my hope,” Alvey said. “I think it’s really an education process.”

Alvey said he appointed Wyandotte County Sheriff Don Ash and Interim Kansas City, Kansas, Police Chief Michael York to the task force, Alvey said, so they could hear about problems and immediately shift resources to make a change.

Lopez, who did not return a phone call seeking comment, wrote in a Facebook post that he believes in the need for an “independent, external, bilingual hotline” for victims to report police misconduct.

“I believe in a safe and welcoming Wyandotte County and that our police do not need to do the work of (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” he wrote.

A son of Mexican immigrants, Lopez was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. In his Facebook post, Lopez said he also supports Dupree’s Community Integrity Unit and believes it should be funded.

Dupree recently renamed the Conviction Integrity Unit. He now calls it the Community Integrity Unit, saying he wants to do more than review cases. He also hopes to handle complaints from the entire community.

Dupree announced the unit in 2017, after Lamonte McIntyre was exonerated. McIntyre spent 23 years in prison after being framed for murder by Kansas City, Kansas, police officer Roger Golubski. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is looking into long-time complaints about Golubski.

KCUR serves the Kansas City region with essential news and information.
Your donation today keeps local journalism strong.