The Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) is under pressure from many and conflicting sources. The public wants relief from a near record 149 homicides in 2017. Kansas City Mayor Sly James wants to squeeze a department he is not authorized to control. And social justice warriors (SJW) want a department that “looks like the community.”
On Thursday, the Citizens for Responsible Government (CFRG) and KCUR’s SJWs went public with their competing demands. CFRG’s John Murphy laid out the nature of the problem from the citizen perspective. In this case what the public wants and what the KCPD brass want is essentially the same: more police officers on the street and more 911 dispatchers.
“Residents calling 911 have been put on hold because of the overwhelming volume of calls,” writes Murphy. “Unfortunately in the case of Jim Cavanaugh, owner of Clint’s comics there was a tragic end. During the robbery of his store an altercation occurred and he was shot. This should never have happened. Folks called 911 and were left on hold for 17 minutes.” According to Murphy, the average hold times for KCMO residents calling 911 is twice the national average, and the hold times are growing.
KCPD has presented the city its 2018-2019 budget. It includes a request for 30 additional police officers, and 21 911 operators. If granted, the department would once again attain 2009 levels. The mayor and city manger have countered with an increase of eight 911 operators and 15 officers.
“Given our Mayor’s antagonism to the increase it will be an uphill battle but one that needs to be waged,” writes Murphy. “It will require citizens calling their council members and telling them that we need more cops on the beat and more 911 operators to field calls.”
Meanwhile at KCUR, metro “reporter” Sam Zeff slides easily from reporting into advocating. Zeff writes, “The department must find ways to recruit more minorities and women.” Must? Why must?
Of the 53 Kansas City recruits now in training at the Northland academy, “13 percent are black, four percent Hispanic, 17 percent are women. That’s just slightly better than what KCPD has on the street right now. The department is 12 percent black, five percent Hispanic and 15 percent female.”
Better? Why better? One could make the argument–Zeff doesn’t–that black and Hispanic officers are useful for language skills, for undercover work, for understanding crime in certain communities. But no such argument can be made for women.
“You always want your police department to reflect the community,” Deputy Chief Karl Oakman tells Zeff. “You want to get the best qualified applicants that reflect your community.” The community is roughly 50 percent female. Even the most committed SJW believe would be hard pressed to argue that a 50 percent female police force would better protect the community.
To “reflect” the community the way the SJWs want, police brass must lower standards and lie, if need be, to conceal the lowering. At some point, they have to choose between reflecting and protecting. Unless existing pressures are reversed, the ambitious will choose to reflect.