By CHRIS OBERHOLTZ, TAYLOR JOHNSON
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (KCTV) — Several civil rights organizations are calling on the Department of Justice to investigate the Kansas City Police Department.
Police accountability is what the Urban Council and other allies called for on Monday. They say this action has been years in the making.
According to Gwen Grant, CEO of the Urban League in Kansas City, says they’ve worked on this letter since 2019. They say it includes allegations of excessive force and discriminatory practices targeting Black people and people of color. The letter is also calling for the resignation of KCPD Chief Rick Smith.
Vernon Howard, president of Greater Kansas City’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, says the police accountability task force has tried creating change at the local and state level. But, he says they did not see success, and that they have no other choice than to take their concern to the Department of Justice.
“We have turned to God almighty. We have turned to our faith. And now we are led to turn to the arbiter of justice. To the system that is designed to protect and defend the lives of every citizen in the city of Kansas City, Missouri,” he said.
KCTV5 News is told the Department of Justice has received their letter. However, it’s unknown how soon they will respond.
The KCPD issued the following statement:
“The Kansas City Missouri Police Department has participated with the DOJ via an MOU agreement with the US Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office since 2015. This MOU ensures reporting of incidents that could rise to the level of civil rights violations or excessive force.
Since the MOU’s inception, the KCPD has voluntarily submitted case documents regarding incidents that meet those criteria, to include PC statements when applicable. Probable cause statements are a swearing under oath, under penalty of perjury, by an investigator that they believe a crime has been committed. Our department investigators submit a PC statement in occurrences they believe a crime has been committed, that has always been our practice.
We take very seriously the quality of relationships and respect between the community as well as members of the organization. Our policy states:
It is the policy and practice of the Board of Police Commissioners and the Kansas City Missouri Police Department (Department) to provide a work atmosphere free of actual or perceived discrimination and harassment. The Department is committed to ensuring members may submit complaints of harassment or discrimination, and participate in investigations resulting from such complaints, without retaliation.
We have mechanisms in place to ensure that members can report any incident of discrimination or racism anonymously and we take every incident of reported racism very seriously and investigate fully whether it involves department members or the members of the community.”
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