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Missouri's Amendment 4 boils down to one core question: Who should control KCPD?

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Zachary Linhares
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The Beacon
Amendment 4, which will appear on the ballot for Missouri voters on Election Day, would allow the state to require more funding for Kansas City’s police department.

The ballot measure would give the legislature the power to order Kansas City to increase the police budget. Supporters say the amendment gives needed funding to a city with growing crime rates. Critics argue it gives the state legislature control over decisions that belong to residents.

Across Missouri, voters will weigh in on Amendment 4 next Tuesday. The measure would allow the state to require more funding for the Kansas City Police Department.

The constitutional amendment doesn’t specifically mention Kansas City — it would allow the Missouri Legislature to require increased minimum funding for a police force established by a state board of commissioners before Dec. 31, 2026, to ensure additional resources to serve the community.

The only city in Missouri with a state-appointed board of commissioners? Kansas City, Missouri.

Ultimately, this vote comes down to control: should the state maintain control of one of Missouri’s largest police departments, or should the city have a say in how KCPD is governed?

While it will be voted on statewide by Missouri voters, most don’t even know about it. According to a recent poll by Emerson College for The Hill, nearly half of the state’s voters say they are “not too familiar or not at all familiar” with the measure.

Supporters of the amendment argue the entire state has a stake in making sure Kansas City sufficiently funds its police force at a time of high violent crime in the city.

Missouri Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, who sponsored a bill in the Missouri Legislature that prompted the amendment, told KCUR’s Up to Date that critics of the amendment simply want more political control over the police.

“What the mayor (Quinton Lucas) wants is local political control of the police department. They want City Hall to control the Kansas City Police Department,” Luetkemeyer said. “I am opposed to that. Because I think it injects City Hall politics into the running of the largest police department in the state.”

Luetkemeyer further criticized Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City Council for voting in 2021 to reallocate $42 million from the police budget to alternative violence prevention strategies. A Jackson County judge later ruled the city overstepped its authority in reallocating those funds.

“The actions of the City Council last year are proof positive that this city council does not have the maturity to run a 1,200 police officer police department,” Luetkemeyer said.

Critics argue exactly the opposite – they claim that the amendment will allow state legislators to exert even more control over the department, and further weaken Kansas City residents' influence.

Decarcerate KC’s Dylan Pyles told Up To Date he believed the senator’s reaction the city council’s 2021 vote is an example of how the amendment would take decisions away from Kansas City residents.

“It takes away decision making power and creates backroom legislation without consulting the city of Kansas City,” Pyles said. “Whether that be the City Council or the people themselves.”

He argued the amendment could set a precedent for state control of police departments throughout Missouri that could extend to decisions beyond funding.

Pyles also criticized Luetkemeyer and other co-sponsors of the amendment for attempting to legislate state residents they do not represent.

“It's telling that the folks who proposed and sponsored this bill originally are not from Kansas City and don't have intimate relationships with the people of Kansas City,” Pyle said. “Kansas City wants a safer community, but not this way. Not in a way that belittles us and robs us of our voice.”

Luetkemeyer is from Parkville and represents residents in the Northland area of Kansas City.

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As Up To Date’s associate producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Zach Perez is KCUR's fall news intern. He started with KCUR after graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and a minor in Political Science. Zach previously worked as an on-air personality for Wildcat 91.9 in Manhattan, Kansas, and as a Media Production Specialist for the Kansas chapter of the International Western Music Association.
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