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As protests continue, Kansas City mayor unveils new police oversight measures

The Kansas City Police Department will now be required to turn to an “outside review” of officer-involved shootings, according to new accountability measures announced by Mayor Quinton Lucas on Thursday. 

Lucas revealed a bevy of “accountability measures,” including a reversal of the department’s policy of not sending probable cause statements to the relevant county prosecutor’s office in officer-involved shootings. The new guidance will also require the police department to review its use of tear gas and “other projectiles” with the goal of restricting their use in the future. 

“I have spent significant time listening to Kansas Citizens this week, who all share this message: we’re tired of waiting for change,” Lucas said in a statement. “I hear these concerns. We must do better. The measures we’ve announced today are but one step in creating a more equitable community for all our residents. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and we’ll continue working on ways to heal our community today and into the future.” 

These changes to police oversight come as cities across America see protests and civil unrest over last week’s killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota. Multiple cities in Missouri — including Kansas City, St, Louis, and Jefferson City — have seen protests over the past week. Gov. Mike Parson announced a state of emergency over the civil unrest last week.

Kansas City also announced plans to purchase body cameras for its police department yesterday. Funding for the cameras came from local community donors, according to a statement from Police Chief Richard Smith. 

“We have been listening to the community’s call for change,” Smith said. “The community has repeatedly asked for body cameras. I am pleased to announce that the DeBruce Foundation has donated enough money to allow us to begin to purchase these cameras.”

“Expect further action from my office as we continue to address longstanding concerns within our community and throughout our nation,” Lucas said. 

Lucas also pardoned Roderick Reed, who was being prosecuted for refusing an order to move his vehicle while recording a video of officers arresting a suspect in February. His footage was used in court to indict the officers on counts of excessive force.