By John Sharp
Despite requests for months to the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners from many organizations and civic leaders to allow residents throughout KCMO to have opportunities to hear from candidates to be the city’s new police chief and ask them questions before a new chief is hired, apparently there will only be one such community meeting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, December 10, at the Mohart Center, 3200 Wayne Ave.
The Board already has narrowed the initial field of 21 applicants to just three finalists (including only one internal candidate) who have all held numerous executive positions in law enforcement and who will make presentations at the event:
Inspector DeShawn Beaufort, a 25-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department who once headed that department’s largest patrol division and now is the point of contact for the department’s regional partners and helps establish deployment strategies throughout that city’s metropolitan area.
Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Scott Ebner, a 27-year veteran of the New Jersey State Police who formerly managed a region of the organization’s uniformed patrol division that also provided police services to 26 municipalities.
Acting Deputy Chief Stacey Graves, a 25-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department who once headed the department’s Human Resources Division and its Shoal Creek Patrol Division and now commands its Patrol Bureau which oversees all six patrol divisions as well as the traffic and special operations divisions.
The Public Safety Coalition, a group of 16 business, civic, faith-based and neighborhood organizations including the South Kansas City Chamber of Commerce and the South Kansas City Alliance that was organized by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, has issued a statement strongly criticizing the limited involvement the Police Board is allowing the public to have in the hiring process.
“We are incredibly disappointed in the process announced by the Board of Police Commissioners to select the next Kansas City, Missouri, Chief of Police,” it stated.
“Coalition members are unhappy that only one session will be held in one part of the city. Coalition members from the Northland, South Kansas City and West Side were particularly concerned that their areas of the city are not being included in the process to hire someone for one of the most important jobs in our community,” it continued.
To gather public input in the process, the Coalition hosted a series of seven listening sessions throughout the city and conducted an online survey on what qualities and qualifications people felt the next chief should have and on what the chief’s top priorities should be. The results were presented to the Police Board on May 24, and at that time promoting community involvement in the selection process appeared to be well received.
In south Kansas City and in the westside and northeast areas of the city, participants in the listening sessions and those responding to the survey listed reducing homicides and other violent crimes as what they thought the new chief’s top priority should be.
Reducing homicides and other violent crimes was listed as what should be one of the new chief’s top five priorities in every part of the city.
The Coalition’s report to the Board noted that according to 2020 data released by the FBI, KCMO ranked as the 8th most violent U.S. big city. That was the year KCMO set a new all-time record for homicides with 179.
Unfortunately, this is still a major issue since this year’s 160 reported homicides at press-time has already assured 2022 will have at least the 2nd most homicides KCMO has ever recorded, already exceeding last year’s 157 homicides which was the 2nd most.
For several years, KCMO’s per capita homicide rate has significantly exceeded the per capita rate of cities like Chicago that have a reputation of being very violent.
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