In the reversal of a long-standing policy, the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) voted Tuesday to allow Kansas City Police Department officers to live within 30 miles of Kansas City. Previously, officers were required to live in Kansas City.
The legislation brings Kansas City in compliance with the newly passed state law, Senate Bill 53, which relaxes residency requirements for officers, allowing them to live within 30 miles of the department. However, the bill says officers must reside in the state of Missouri.
KCPD leaders originally asked the BOPC to allow officers to live in Kansas. Deputy Chief Mike Wood said there are likely a number of people the department could attract by allowing officers to live in Kansas.
“I think we can make a pretty strong inference that that’s the sole reason they hadn’t come over (to the Missouri side) is because they wanted to stay on the Kansas side whether it be for school districts or taxes,” Wood said.
Mayor Quinton Lucas opposed the residency requirement, but was especially against allowing individuals living in Kansas to be employed at KCPD. He didn’t accept the quality of Johnson County schools as an excuse.
“Kansas City, Missouri has 14 public school districts — outstanding districts. You can have horses. You can live in a high rise. You can do all these sorts of things here,” Lucas said. “The legislature has made a decision that said, ‘let’s expand it to the Missouri suburbs.’ I don’t know why we would want to make these additional expansions.”
Lucas also pointed out that adding Johnson County would do little to increase the department’s diversity.
Board commissioner Kathy Dean also said she was concerned about allowing individuals living in Kansas to the legislation.
“I want people to be able to respond quickly and I don’t want somebody in Shawnee County or Douglas County having to get to Kansas City in order to respond,” Dean said.
The board agreed to continue discussions about the Kansas issue at a later date, but passed the 30-mile residency as required by the new state law.