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Challenge To Kansas City Mayor's Police Reform Plan Set For September 1 Hearing

071521_cm_KCPolice
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3

A Jackson County judge on Monday denied two challenges to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners' lawsuit that seeks to undo the mayor's reform plan, which remains on hold.

A Jackson County judge has denied two challenges to a Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners lawsuit, clearing the way for a September hearing on Mayor Quinton Lucas’ police reform plan.

Judge Patrick W. Campbell ruled Monday that Gwen Grant, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City, doesn’t have a right to intervene in the lawsuit. Grant, who filed as a citizen and not head of the league, had argued that the Kansas City Police Department doesn’t give local taxpayers a say in how it spends its budget.

KCPD has not been under local control since 1939, when it was taken over by a five-member Board of Police Commissioners, made up of the mayor and four gubernatorial appointees. The board’s lawsuit seeks to keep it that way and toss Lucas’ plan.

Campbell wrote that the dispute involving the board and the city is limited to funding for this fiscal year, and Grant has no direct interest in that. If she wants to pursue her own legal challenge to the board’s lawsuit, Campbell said she can do that on her own.

“Ms. Grant remains free to pursue her constitutional challenges no matter how this case may be resolved,” Campbell wrote.

Campbell's other ruling Monday dismissed a request to remove individual city council members and other city officials from the lawsuit.

The rulings are the latest in a fight that has pitted KCPD and its board against Lucas and the city council. The battle is centered on a plan Lucas pushed through the council in a single day in May, resulting in the reallocation of about one-fifth of the police budget for crime-fighting social services.

“The court will hear both parties’ substantive arguments on September 1, at which time we are confident the court will rule in the people’s favor for fairness and transparency in police spending,” Lucas said Tuesday.

Lucas’ plan moves about $42 million from the $240 million police budget and places it in a “community services and prevention fund,” which is designated for community engagement, outreach, prevention, intervention, and other public services. The city and the police commission would negotiate how to spend that money. Lucas is also seeking an additional $3 million for a new police academy class.

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