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KCFD report reveals racism and sexism persist in the department

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Sam Zeff
KCUR 89.3
A136-page culture report on the Kansas City Fire Department included interviews with employees that said they have been grabbed in sexually inappropriate ways and subjected to racial slurs.

The report was commissioned in 2020 after the Kansas City Star published a year-long investigation exposing discrimination against Black and women firefighters.

Last week, the Kansas City Council released a report on racism and sexism in the Kansas City Fire Department. The report was produced by a third-party consultant and commissioned in response to an investigation by the Kansas City Star that exposed rampant discrimination in the department.

The report said the KCFD unions prevent supervisors from holding bad employees accountable.

“They [the unions] use a lot of political power within local governments, even state governments. A lot of elected officials who are seeking office often go to them for their political support,” Glenn Rice, one of the Star reporters who first broke the story back in 2020, told Up To Date on Thursday. “They have a lot of members, and a lot of people who support what they do in terms of being firefighters, so they generate a lot of money for those candidates.”

In a written statement to KCUR, the city’s Chief Equity Officer LaDonna McCullough said the city and KCFD are reviewing the recommendations in the report.

“It is imperative that all internal systems change and transformative culture efforts are undergird by sustainable initiatives that address the issues in the gap and are not quick fixes that fail to truly address concerns and the lived experiences within the workplace.”

KC Star reporters Glenn Rice and Mike Hendricks joined KCUR’s Up To Date to discuss key findings of a KCFD culture report released by city hall last week.

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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.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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