Future of Policing: Part 2

Kansas City community members continue dialogue around local control, use of force and future reforms.

The Future of Policing: Part 2 is the third discussion in the series sponsored by Chancellor Mauli Agrawal of the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the university’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion.

The second discussion focused on policing in the Critical Conversations series took place on Thursday, Aug. 27, and continued the dialogue around local control, use of force and future reforms.

Participating panelists included:

  • Gwendolyn Grant, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Kansas City
  • Ronald Lindsay, pastor, Concord Fortress of Hope Church
  • Ken Novak, professor, UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology
  • Deputy Chief Karl Oakman, Kansas City, Missouri Police
  • Gary O’Bannon (co-moderator), executive-in-residence, Henry W. Bloch School of Management
  • Cynthia L. Short, trial lawyer, mitigation specialist and sentencing advocate 
  • Jasmine Ward (co-moderator), third-year student, UMKC School of Law 

Local control was top-of-mind since Mayor Lucas recently withdrew a measure allowing voters to weigh in on the issue. Grant cited the move as a wise one, saying that the people of Kansas City were not voting to establish local control or not, but only to have the city council make it a legislative priority.

Lindsay added that while the issue of local control is important, Kansas City would be better served by focusing on how we include communities, individuals and neighborhoods into the global policing strategy. 

One way to offer community members insight into the police department is transparency, particularly around use-of-force techniques. Novak said that there is no greater disconnect between the police and public than what is considered a reasonable and unreasonable use-of-force. Partly because the public views use-of-force incidents through a larger, historical lens and partly because they don’t have access to or understand the police department’s existing policies and procedures. Some police departments – including Kansas City – make their policies available online to allow for greater transparency.

Another element that has been brought up nationally is the idea that police forces have “a few bad apples” and their actions aren’t indicative of the entire department. Unfortunately, as Short pointed out, framing the issue as a few bad apples is misleading to the public. Until everyone holds police accountable, including other officers, the situation will remain the same.

Published: Sep 3, 2020