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Lucas responds to KCPD budget lawsuit: ‘Legally and factually false’

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a response to an ongoing lawsuit over his decision to relocate a portion of the Police Department’s budget.

The lawsuit was filed by the state last month on behalf of a majority of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners against Lucas and other city officials. The plaintiffs sought a reversal and voiding of Lucas’s mandates, the return of budgetary control to the board, and a temporary restraining order against the defendants requiring the return of the funds.

A Jackson County judge issued a stay on the case last week, and the city filed to have the suit thrown out Tuesday. Lucas called the board’s complaints “legally and factually false.” 

“The unelected police board’s suit is not about protecting the brave women and men in the rank and file of our police department, nor is it about making the community safer. The suit is the board’s effort to preserve their power and the power of Jefferson City over our local affairs, while Kansas Citians continue to suffer unconscionably high rates of crime in too many of our neighborhoods,” Lucas said. “I continue to encourage the taxpayer-funded police board to drop this wasteful litigation against the taxpayer-funded city and to work with us to build the safer Kansas City we all deserve.”

The controversial move from Lucas lowered the Kansas City Police Department’s budget to the minimum of 20 percent of general revenue. The $42 million that had already been allocated was then put into a separate fund with an additional $3 million for community engagement, intervention, and other public services. 

The board argued Lucas gave it short notice before authorizing the reallocation and said the move would cause “irreparable harm” to its ability to manage the budget.

“The board has an existing, clear, and unconditional legal right in that, once the fiscal year 2021-22 budget was duly adopted by the board, that budget became the authorization of expenditures for the purposes set forth therein and no transfer from one character classification of expenditure in the board budget to another character classification was permitted without board approval,” the lawsuit said. 

Lucas addressed the backlash on Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics,” saying citizens were becoming more comfortable with the change the more it was discussed. 

“Anybody who has actually read into it in Kansas City recognizes that it is actually making sure certain things are performed in Kansas City,” Lucas said. “The more we’ve been able to discuss it, folks get it. Folks say, ‘We like intervention officers, we like making sure we have folks working in victim services in KCPD,’ and I think that’s something that is going to do well for Kansas City in the long term.”

Some Republican lawmakers from the city quickly requested an extraordinary session call from Gov. Mike Parson to address the change. The legislature is instead returning to the capital city to renew the federal reimbursement allowance (FRA), a statewide budgetary issue with millions in withholds in the balance.