Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We're ready for Ferguson grand jury decision

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if the Kansas City Missouri Police Department is ready for the decision of the grand jury in the officer-involved shooting in Ferguson, Mo. The short answer is, “yes.” We’re always ready. We train constantly for critical incidents, and we are prepared to allocate resources wherever needed. We are supposed to receive some advance notice of the grand jury’s decision, but we would be prepared if it happened right now.

We’re not over-preparing because we don’t anticipate any large-scale events of civil disorder. Kansas City has a history of exercising their First Amendment rights in a peaceful manner. On many occasions in recent years, we’ve seen members of protestor groups step up and say they aren’t going to tolerate those intent on violence and destruction. They did it in the initial Ferguson demonstrations here. They did it during demonstrations for Trayvon Martin. We have good people here in Kansas City who know how to get their message across while respecting the rights and property of others.

There will always be alarmists – people who want to stir the pot and agitate and create fear. I am not afraid, and you shouldn’t be, either. This of course does not mean that KCPD isn’t ready to handle anything that happens. We are. We will be using covert and overt resources. Commanders will have a more visible presence out in the field. But we will not be heavy-handed. We will engage only at the level necessary to protect life and property.

Long before Ferguson, our department members had been working to build trust with other segments of our community. I have been blessed to hear from numerous community leaders who are constantly asking me how they can help. They and many others in our city have done a great deal. That’s evident in our reduced crime rates this year. They have refused to tolerate violent and property crimes in their community, and they’ve worked with us toward the goal of a safer city.

Law enforcement around the nation is under a higher level of scrutiny than ever before. Our personnel know this. During these difficult times, we will do everything we can to support those who want to lawfully express themselves while protecting the people and property of Kansas City.

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