Edward Williams, a former Kansas City Police Department traffic officer, has filed a lawsuit against the KCPD. He alleges that his superiors ordered him to target minorities during traffic stops to meet ticket quotas. 

State law in Missouri strictly prohibits police departments from using ticket quotas. Williams’ lawsuit says the KCPD used “ticket goals” in the traffic unit. Whether or not an officer met these ticket goals was used in performance reviews. Williams claims that, in practice, this functioned as a ticket quota, breaking the law. 

Additionally, in the filing, Williams says that his supervisor told him “to go to minority neighborhoods to write tickets” because his supervisor believed that it would be easier to write multiple citations at each stop in Black neighborhoods.

Williams’ lawsuit says he was punished for raising concerns with his superiors over the ticket goals and potentially racially discriminatory policing practices. The court filing accuses the KCPD of violating the Missouri Human Rights Act by targeting Black and minority neighborhoods in addition to breaking a state whistleblower protection law.

The Kansas City Star analyzed traffic tickets issued by the KCPD and processed by the Kansas City Municipal Court in 2018. They found that 60% of tickets went to Black residents, who make up 30% of the population. In contrast, 37% of tickets went to Whites, who make up 59% of the population. Meaning that Black people in Kansas City are nearly three times more likely to be ticketed than their White counterparts. 

Williams also alleges that other White KCPD superiors subjected him to racist rhetoric that “minority officers would have certainly reported.” This comes as the U.S. Department of Justice is currently investigating the KCPD for racial discrimination in their employment practices. 

In a statement released Thursday, KCPD Chief Stacey Graves said the department is dedicated to policing that is equitable and fair. Graves says that the KCPD doesn’t direct enforcement based on demographics, but they do direct traffic enforcement to high crash areas and where there are citizen complaints. 

“I find these allegations very concerning and will immediately ensure the Traffic Division is reminded to operate and enforce laws appropriately,” says Graves. 

An initial hearing for Williams’ lawsuit against the KCPD has been scheduled for July 27, 2023, with Judge Adam Caine.

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