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Missourians concerned about policing should reach out, says Jackson County executive


The best thing that people whose minds are opening up to the issues that the black community faces can do is to reach out, according to Jackson County Executive Frank White.

“I think the thing to do if you live in a community where you don’t see a lot of black people or deal with a lot of minority people, if you’re really interested in what’s going on and truly shaken with what you saw on TV as it relates to Mr. Floyd, then I would say reach out the law enforcement in your community, have some conversations,” White said. 

“Schedule some town halls, have some people come in to speak. That can give you a really good idea of what you can do to get involved,” he said. “I was really struck by the diversity of the crowds in the protests around the country. I think a lot of people were shaken by what they saw.” 

White appeared on “This Week in Missouri Politics” Sunday to discuss the fallout of the death of George Floyd as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. White talked about the use of force by Minneapolis police officers in the killing, as well as the possibility of additional social work training for police officers. White discussed his own experiences with police and protesting, having been a high school senior at the time of Martin Luthor King Jr.’s assassination and experienced the protests in Kansas City in the days that followed. 

White also discussed the impact that COVID-19 has had on the Jackson County area, identifying a big difference between the area and a rural community as the population and density. He praised the governor’s decision to allow local leadership to regulate the response to the virus.

“That’s why he left it up to the county and the city in Kansas City and St. Louis, because our situation was totally different than what he was seeing in the rural communities, so he allowed us to go a little stricter than his orders,” White said.    

White also talked about Truman Hospital’s response to the virus and the status of the return of sports in Kansas City.

Policing and Missouri’s reopening

This week’s panel included state Sen. John Rizzo and state Rep. Jack Bondon. The panel discussed the protests, as well as possible alternatives to the way policing is done in America.

Both guests agreed that a closer look at uses of force and accountability measures would be the first step, as well as improving the policing system rather than defunding it. 

“In order for there to be substantive change, police officers have to buy into it,” Rizzo said. “We all have to have buy-in and we all have to get together and make substantive changes that will make both sides happy.”

The panel also discussed COVID-19 and the state’s reopening plan.

“The folks are raring to go,” said Bondon. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there. In spite of the COVID and the shutdown, we have seen tax revenue up, which means people are out spending money in the places that they can, and I hope for a speedy and quick recovery to this.”

The panel further discussed the differences in restrictions and mindsets from county-to-county and the local control that Missouri communities saw, as well as the outlooks for both Gov. Mike Parson and President Trump in the upcoming elections. 

Watch the full episode of This Week in Missouri Politics below.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.