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Kansas City Police send off Chief Rick Smith, swear in Joseph Mabin as interim chief

A man wearing a police uniform is raising his right hand to swear an oath. Another hand of a judge can be seen raised in the foreground.
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
Interim Police Chief Joseph Mabin takes the oath of office from Jackson County Circuit Judge Kevin Harrell on Friday morning inside the Community Room at Kansas City Police headquarters.

Mabin said he's committed to fighting violent crime and building relationships with the Kansas City community.

Joseph Mabin, a deputy police chief with the Kansas City Police Department, was sworn in as the interim chief of police on Friday following the official retirement of Rick Smith.

Mabin, a 22-year veteran of KCPD, will lead the department as the city looks for a permanent police chief. The Board of Police Commissioners will lead the search for the department, which is state-controlled. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a member of the board, has said the search could take up to a year.

The police board approved a final payout of Smith’s salary and benefits, including accrued sick and vacation time, totaling $274,926.84.

The Board also approved a 25% salary increase for Mabin, from $11,155 a month to $13,944 a month.

As a deputy chief since last May, Mabin has commanded the investigations bureau. He has also served as a sergeant, captain and major.

Mabin said he has no intention of applying for the permanent position.

On Friday, he said he’s committed to fighting violent crime in the city and strengthening relationships with the Kansas City community.

“Fighting violent crime is a serious issue and it's something that I'm going to focus on moving forward, working with our federal state community partners to do that,” Mabin said. “And building relationships with the community is going to be my focus.”

Lucas said he appreciated Mabin’s remarks.

“I think this is a sign of success for the Kansas city police department,” Lucas said. “I think it’s a sign of somebody who came up in our organization, who’s doing outstanding work and a sign that we’ll have somebody who’s connected to the community and ready to do a great job for the people of Kansas City.”

Mabin takes over a department that, in the eyes of many, has lost much of the community’s trust, particularly that of Black residents, after a number of high-profile police shootings of civilians.

The Kansas City Star this month reported on incidents of racism within the department and a pattern of Black officers facing discipline more often than white officers.

Last week, Smith was criticized by city leaders for his decision to disband the KCPD’s missing persons cold case unit, which he said was necessary to deal with ongoing staffing shortages at the department.

Mabin told the police board that detectives in the unit will be temporarily reassigned to work overnight shifts, beginning in May. He said the department will continue to investigate cold cases, which will be split among the homicide squad, sex crimes squad and juvenile unit.

“We currently do not have enough detectives working that shift to respond to crime scenes and to interview victims and witnesses,” Mabin told the board on Tuesday. “Currently we're having detectives from the robbery unit, the domestic violence unit, the assault unit, sex crimes unit, working overnight for seven days in a row on a rotating basis to help out staffing with that shift.”

As KCUR’s Missouri politics and government reporter, it’s my job to show how government touches every aspect of our lives. I break down political jargon so people can easily understand policies and how it affects them. My work is people-forward and centered on civic engagement and democracy. I hold political leaders and public officials accountable for the decisions they make and their impact on our communities. Follow me on Twitter @celisa_mia or email me at celisa@kcur.org.
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