A viral video that showed KCPD officers throwing nine-months pregnant Deja Stallings to the ground was bad in several ways. It was easy for people to get upset by the officers mishandling of Stallings, but some protestors were also upset by those and other KCPD officers’ lack of masks in the midst of the pandemic.
Kyharra Williams, whose comments on the misconduct of the KCPD and the City Council has gone viral, wasn’t surprised when KCPD Chief Rick smith shared stats on the growing number of COVID-19 cases within the department.
Like so many individuals who refuse to wear masks, Smith appeared to not make the connection between the absence of mask wearing within the department and the high COVID incidence rate.
According to Smith, since March, the department tested 1,200 officers with 131 positive. As of that Nov. 10 meeting, 54 officers were quarantined and 18 were recovering.
While he seemed concerned about the outbreak, Smith told members of the Board of Police Commissioners the outbreak wasn’t affecting the department. He failed to speak to the impact the lack of mask wearing by his officers might be having on the citizens they serve.
Worried about her own health, Williams stood up during the Police Commission meeting and handed each officer in the room a mask, including Smith.
“They looked at me like I was crazy and rolled their eyes.”
Williams’ and other protestors’ concern, and Smith’s lack of it, didn’t get past Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, who serves on the Police Commission. Less than a week later – as COVID-19 cases in KC surged – he made mask wearing by police officers mandatory.
In his initial mask mandate, all essential workers were exempt from the mandate. At a press conference this week, Lucas said he didn’t mean for that to be the case and he modified the order to require police, other emergency responders and essential workers to wear masks.