Mayor David Alvey of Wyandotte County announced the creation of a new task force to address the relationship between law enforcement and the African-American and Hispanic communities at a press conference today.
“My intent is for law enforcement and local leaders to utilize this to expand education and awareness, review and improve policing policies and procedures, and build trust, interaction, and inclusiveness with all groups and populations in historically diverse Wyandotte County,” Mayor Alvey, co-chair of the task force said in a press release.
The task force will have a series of forums, listening sessions, online survey tools and other ways for the community to voice their experiences with local law enforcement and what they want to see changed. Once the task force is finalized, the members will share a public summary with law enforcement, local officials and the Unified Government. Mayor Alvey said necessary changes will be made as a result.
“We can and must bring to an end any abuse of power and any bias in policing,” said Mayor Alvey.
Mayor Alvey created the task force after Interim Chief of Police Michael York brought up his concern with George Floyd’s unjust death in a meeting originally about coronavirus. York said what happened to George Floyd was a criminal act and he would never condone conduct like that from the Kansas City, KS Police Department officers.
York, who will serve as a member of the task force said he is ready for positive change and wants to hear how his officers can do better. “We’re not perfect. We make mistakes and we learn by our mistakes,” York said at the press conference. “But today is the day that we start moving forward with those mistakes and handling those mistakes.”
Co-chair of the task force, Commissioner Harold Johnson said he looks forward to working on the task force because he knows the Kansas City, KS community and many across the country are looking to their leaders and demanding something to be done. “Just because George Floyd was not a resident of Kansas City, Kansas and Wyandotte County does not give us a pass from examining the culture and practices of our law enforcement agencies,” said Johnson.
Another member of the task force includes a student from Donnelly College, Yareli Castor.
“(Students) have a big voice in all of this and they’re getting tired of not being heard,” Castor said. “So I’m here to let you guys know that I will be listening to what you guys have to say, and hopefully we can work together as a community to make a change.”
Other members working on the task force include Rev. Tony Carter, president of Donnelly College Stuart Swetland, Sheriff Don Ash and Randy Lopez, program officer for the Wyandotte Health Foundation.
The task force’s first meeting will be held in the next couple weeks, said Mayor Alvey.