Wyandotte County Administrator Doug Bach has agreed to expand the selection process for a new Kansas City, KS, police chief to include community input. Citizen groups, led in part by the grassroots social justice organization Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity, also known as MORE2, had been calling for community involvement in the process since Police Chief Terry Zeigler announced his retirement last summer.
In the announced “recruitment process,” community input will be included early in the process to help establish “top priorities” of the new police chief. The process will include:
• Meetings with neighborhood organizations,
• Community focus group meetings
• Community surveys.
Community focus groups will not be open to the public. Instead, in response to an anticipated high level of public interest, individuals must apply and be selected to participate in the focus groups, which will be held in February and March. To apply, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 28.
Another way to provide your input is to respond to a public survey before April 1. The survey can be found online @ maps.wycokck.org/ChiefSearch.html.
Among the questions asked in the survey are: What does the police department do well, where they need to focus to improve, and how the police department’s relationship with the community can be improved.
Survey responders will also be asked to rank six identified priorities of a new police chief.
“Community input is going to have a lot of weight on the candidates who are selected for evaluation,” said Dave Reno, interim public information officer for the Unified Government. “We’ll instruct the search firm to find candidates that kind of meets those qualifications (identified by the community), in addition to standard qualifications.”
The selection process, as outlined, is expected to take eight to nine months. The county will utilize a search firm to recruit applicants and conduct preliminary candidate evaluations. The opening will be promoted nationally as well as within the department. After initial evaluations to narrow the field to the top candidates, the finalists will go through a two-day assessment center evaluation process that looks at their interpersonal skills, communication, planning and evaluating skills, reasoning and problem-solving and leadership.
The finalists will make a presentation to the Unified Government Commission. This meeting will be open to the public.
The selection process includes a candidate evaluation conducted by professional organizations, neighborhood group leaders, the Fraternal Order of Police (the city’s police union) and Unified Government employees selected by the county administrator.
Although they were pleased that Bach expanded the selection process to include community input, MORE 2 had hoped to see some community members involved at this level in the process.
“We celebrate this news (community involvement) as an essential step forward in the ongoing work of building trust between the Unified government, the KCKPD, and residents of KCK,” the group wrote in a press release. “Much work remains, but we move forward with faith that democracy works, and that finding solutions for social challenges will not come from a select few, but from empowering those most directly impacted.”
Kansas City, KS, Police Chief Terry Zeigler announced his plans to retire just days after MORE2 led a march to police headquarters and demanded that Mayor David Alvey fire him. This came after a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of a former police cadet who said she was fired after reporting she was sexually assaulted by a supervising officer.
In December 2018, KCK Police Officer Steven Rios received 12 months probation for misdemeanor battery of a young cadet whom he supervised.
In October 2018 Zeigler’s former partner, KCK Det. Roger Golubski was named in a federal lawsuit that claimed he extorted sexual favors from poor black women and coerced them into providing false evidence. The lawsuit, filed by Lamonte McIntyre and his mother, Rose McIntyre, alleges that he tried to force Rose into a sexual relationship, and when she refused, he framed her son Lamonte for murder. (See more about McIntyre in the story below.)
In early 2019, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation launched an investigation into whether the chief had “double-dipped” when he took time off to work on a lake house property he leased from the Unified Government.