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Mayor Lucas: Kansas City hasn't done enough to address racism and sexism in fire department

Carlos Moreno
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas says the city needs to make sure the fire department is welcoming and always held accountable.

Mayor Quinton Lucas thinks Kansas City needs to do more to address its fire department's culture, one week after a report detailed persistent incidences of racist and sexist harassment within the department.

A report last week highlighted persistent racism and sexism in the Kansas City Fire Department despite some policy changes intended to combat those concerns.

While Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said the city and its fire department are continuing to improve, he said there is a need to empower the voices of those who have been impacted by the department’s culture to see how they can do better.

“We need to make sure that (the fire department) is a space where everyone, regardless of background — particularly women in the fire department, particularly minorities in the fire department — who've had concerns, feel like any concerns or grievances they have will be addressed fully and fairly without actually being caught up or held up by anybody along the way,” Lucas told KCUR's Up To Date on Tuesday.

The report also found that the two unions within the fire department currently have too much power — and that labor clout stands in the way of making change.

"While administrators may change, sometimes changing culture is a lot harder," Lucas said. "It requires the cooperation of the union. It requires the cooperation of a lot of folks who have had, I think, some influence on that department for decades, if not generations."

Lucas joined KCUR's Up To Date to discuss the recent report on the fire department, his interest in reparations for Black Kansas Citians and his trip to Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, 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. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior 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.
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