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Faith leaders want next Kansas City police chief committed to fighting racism

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Lynn Horsley
/
KCUR
Community members are weighing-in on who should replace police Chief Rick Smith when he retires in April, 2022.

Accusations of racism in the Kansas City, Missouri police department have faith leaders calling for a culture change as the Board of Police Commissioners searches for a new chief of police.

As the search for retiring Chief of Police Rick Smith's replacement gets underway, clergy members are urging that it be a candidate from outside the department who will have zero tolerance for racism.

In a yearlong investigation by The Kansas City Star numerous former and current employees of the department accused fellow officers of racist behavior. Community members of color have also voiced concerns of harassment, discrimination and bias policing. Now faith leaders are asking for a change and for an investigation by the Department of Justice.

Pastor Emanuel Cleaver III says he was told there are current policies in place regarding discrimination, "but if they're already in place, that means they're not being followed," he said. The pastor of St. James United Methodist Church continued, "And so perhaps more than structure, it's more of a culture within the KCPD."

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
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Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz
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