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Missouri Senate passes bill that would increase Kansas City's police funding requirements

092821_cm_Police
Carlos Moreno
/
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Police work the scene of a rolling drive-by shooting off of Troost Avenue in 2021.

The Kansas City budget for the coming fiscal year calls for the police department to receive $269 million, more than the state requirement of 20% of the general fund.

The Missouri Senate passed a bill Thursday that would increase Kansas City’s minimum funding threshold for the Kansas City Police Department by 5%, a move its sponsor, Republican Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, says pushes back on Kansas City’s “radical attempts to defund the police.”

Current Missouri law requires Kansas City to allocate 20% of its general revenue to the department. Luetkemeyer’s bill would increase that to 25%.

In a statement, Luetkemeyer, whose district includes Parkville, Missouri, said the bill will ensure that KCPD officers “have the resources they need” to keep the city safe.

“At a time when law enforcement is under siege on our streets and radical city councils around the country are defunding the police, it’s time for the legislature to act,” Luetkemeyer said.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

The bill comes in response to the city council’s attempt last year to reallocate $42 million of the KCPD’s budget to community policing and prevention, an effort to exercise some local control over the department’s budget. A Missouri court later ruled that the move was illegal.

Those opposed to the council’s move, including Luetkemeyer, accused Kansas City officials of “defunding the police,” even though it would not have resulted in any decrease in the police budget.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas testified against the bill in January, arguing it would give the KCPD a blank check. But Councilwoman Heather Hall voiced support for it and urged the legislature to pass it so it could take effect before the city council approves the 2022-2023 budget at its March 24 legislative session.

The Senate’s passage of the bill comes amid Kansas City’s annual budget cycle, which calls for the KCPD to receive $269 million in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. That surpasses the 20% state funding threshold.

This week, the city council debated an ordinance sponsored by Lucas that would create a $33 million fund for the KCPD dedicated to community policing and prevention.

If approved, the ordinance would support salary increases and hiring more officers, including officers trained in crisis intervention and community outreach.

The ordinance received some pushback from council members who wanted greater accountability to ensure the money is used for its intended purpose. Several Kansas City residents also testified against the ordinance, saying they did not want to see more money going to the police department.

The proposed $269 million police budget includes the $33 million. If Lucas’ ordinance is not approved by the city council by the time the budget is passed, the council would have to remove it from the police department’s budget.

Last month, the city council approved spending $450,000 on legal services to oppose Luetkemeyer’s bill.

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