Jackson County Judge Patrick Campell ruled that Mayor Quinton Lucas and city council violated state law when attempting to reallocate a portion of the Kansas City Police Department budget earlier this year.
Campell announced the judgement Oct. 5, ruling that Kansas City cannot change KCPD’s spending without approval from the Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC). The city will now be required to put the $42.2 million city council approved to reallocate, back in the police department’s budget.
The judge ruled that the reallocation violated Missouri state law that gives the BOPC “exclusive management and control” of the department and decides its budgeting process. He also said the city violated state law by passing the reallocation ordinances because it changed KCPD funding after the budget was finalized, without the BOPC’s permission.
“KCPD engages in the budget process six months ahead of when the budget year begins. The police department puts a great deal of effort into this process as does the city. This budget process directly affects not only the police department and the city, but the members in our community. We appreciate the court recognized the validity of the 2020-2021 budget process,” read a statement from KCPD released after the ruling.
The BOPC sued the city earlier this year after Lucas and city council passed ordinances in May that would reallocate $42.2 million of the police budget to violence prevention programming, which the police board and city would negotiate together on how to be used.
The Missouri Legislature requires the city to allocate at least 20% of their total budget to the police department, which equals about $153 million. It’s also required to fund about $40 million in pension obligations for the department. Combined, last year the city was required to allocate at least $193 million for police funding, and they exceeded that amount by about $42 million.
The reallocation would have shifted that extra $42 million toward a new Community Services and Prevention Fund within KCPD, which Lucas said will provide community engagement, outreach, prevention, intervention and other public service programs, all designed to help reduce violent crime.
An additional $3 million would have been set aside for the department to recruit any additional staff to implement and staff the program’s efforts.
The BOPC claimed the reallocation of funds still violated Missouri law, since KCPD is controlled by the state-appointed BOPC. Missouri law gives the five-member BOPC, not city council, oversight over KCPD.
Councilmembers who represent the Northland, Teresa Loar, Heather Hall, Dan Fowler and Kevin O’Neil expressed major concern with the reallocation, saying it would significantly cut KCPD’s budget.
Lucas said the reallocation was not defunding the police, but a creative new way for KCPD to focus on preventing violent crime instead of using traditional models of increasing police, which he says is not working.
“The city will weigh all options going forward, including appeal,” Lucas said in a statement after the ruling was announced. “The decision announced by the Court today has provided a pathway forward for the city to require the Kansas City Police Department to engage in discussions related to crime prevention throughout future budget cycles, should the department seek to receive funds in excess of 20% of the city’s General Fund Revenue.”