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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas remains critical of 'racist' state control over the KCPD

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062520 Quinton Lucas and local faith leaders by Lisa Rodriguez.JPG
Lisa Rodriguez
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Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas stood with local faith leaders in 2020 as he announced a push to return control of the Kansas City Police Department to the city.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says the current system of state control over the KCPD undermines the voices of Kansas City residents.

As Kansas City launches its search for a new police chief, Mayor Quinton Lucas remains critical of state control over the police department, calling it a racist system.

“This is a backwards colonial system that undermines the voices of Kansas Citians, particularly minority voices, because there aren't many cities where a lot of minorities get elected,” he said Friday on KCUR’s Up to Date. “And I think that this is a sign, again, of how the state tries to subjugate the people of Kansas City.”

It’s a system that Lucas doesn’t think will change under a Republican-controlled state legislature, but rather will require legal action.

“There is certainly no evidence to suggest that we're a heck of a lot safer by having a state control system and a board that is less responsive to the issues of this community, than what you'd have in Grandview or Grain Valley, or anything around us,” he said.

Lucas also called outgoing Police Chief Rick Smith’s decision to disband the Missing Persons and Cold Case unit frustrating. Smith cited staffing shortages as the reason. Lucas said he would try to get the Board of Police Commissioners to reverse Smith’s decision.

Violence prevention

Lucas’ appearance came on the heels of several deadly shootings and violent incidents in Kansas City, which he called discouraging. Earlier this week, Lucas visited the White House to lend support to actions taken by the Biden administration to crack down on ghost guns.

“For me, this is about limiting the number of unlicensed, illegal handguns that are on the streets of Kansas City, and that end up in more criminal incidents,” Lucas said.

Chief search 

Smith’s last day with the KCPD is April 22. Deputy Chief Joseph Maybin will lead the department on an interim basis as the Board of Police Commissioners searches for a permanent police chief.

Lucas said the national search could take a year. He said the person who fills the role must be able to speak to people from different backgrounds and address racism inside and outside the department.

“The chief of police does not work for the Missouri Legislature,” Lucas said. “The chief of police does not have to be accountable to out-of-state interests. The chief of police should be accountable to parents at Northeast Middle School, to people listening to this show now and should remain committed as anyone.”

Stay Connected
Celisa Calacal covers Missouri politics and local government for KCUR. Follow her on Twitter @celisa_mia or email her at celisa@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.