olor me cynical on the new efforts by Missouri politicians to enact police reforms.
Senator Brian Williams has urged Gov. Parson to take action during a special session on police reform. He wrote, “In my opinion, it is imperative that you call a special session to address policing, and more specifically, use-of-force tactics. These issues are extremely important to me personally, especially since I am the only Black male senator to serve the state of Missouri in the past 20 years.”
Williams, who hails from St. Louis, is well intentioned in his call for reform. But I am old enough to remember Kansas City and St. Louis representatives laying much of their violent crime problems at the feet of rural legislators over gun control. I am not sure how this will end up much different. We are talking different worlds. The State of Missouri has 114 counties and the overwhelming majority have no uprising for police reform.
There has long been a political wall built between the suburban and rural areas and the city limits of Kansas City and St. Louis. This will simply be another brick in that wall. Is it a solution to not act? No. But neither is imposing a statewide reform on an electorate that does not see the need for reform.
Speaking of crime and special sessions, closer to home, Mayor Lucas of Kansas City has asked the governor to address violent crime in a special session. The irony of this request is not lost on most of us. Let’s limit the police and let’s reign in crime at the same time. A few days in Jeff City and we can knock all this out. Unicorns may fly out our butts as well.
The same city that has citizens protesting federal agents coming into town to help clear unsolved murders and shootings wants the state to take action to curb violence. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City denounced the deployment of federal agents ordered by the United States Justice Department at nearly the same time that Lucas was requesting state action. They stood on the City Hall steps and said it with straight faces and even said the additional agents would “further militarize our community and escalate the already elevated possibility of bloodshed in the streets.”
It is honestly a “throw your hands in the air” dilemma for legislators that do not represent urban areas. What exactly do they want? Fewer cops, more cops with less discretion? Probably the same feeling urban legislators get when their rural cohorts start talking about corn production and ethanol. The ideological divide on how to treat crime is so wide, I cannot see any meaningful action that could take place in Jefferson City that is going to slow this troubling trend of violence.
This also seems like an “awkward taco” time to point out that last week a Kansas City councilwoman told KMBC that the Kansas City police department spent $2.1 million dollars on the protests and marches in Kansas City over the last month. She was quoted as being “worried” that the KCPD is headed for big cuts because of the virus expenses. Wait, the “virus” expenses caused the budget shortfall?
Yeah, that’s how unexpected expenses work. They eat up budgets, even protest/riot expenses eat up budgets. Again, what exactly does Kansas City want or more importantly what do they need to help?
We do not need to build a higher wall here but throwing legislation at the problem is not a solution to a problem this big.
(Guy Speckman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or figuring up his unexpected protest expenses)