Friday, May 26, 2017

Interim Chief Zimmerman: My first week on the job

As I near the end of my first week as Chief of Police, I must acknowledge that I could not fulfill the responsibilities of this position without the support and encouragement of the women and men of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. My experiences this week only reinforce my conclusion that I made the right choice over 34 years ago when I joined this organization. 

As for the community we serve, the support I have received over the past week is humbling as individuals I don’t personally know approach me with words of congratulations, along with offers to help and kind words of reassurance. I have been a life-long resident of Kansas City, Missouri, raising a family here, and I will continue to call this great city home long after I am finished with policing.

One final thought as we gather with friends and family this Memorial Day weekend to remember the loved ones we have lost, I pray everyone has a safe holiday and we extend a hand of friendship and support to those around us.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A farewell message to the members of the KCPD

My retirement was effective May 20, 2017. Future chiefs will take over this blog going forward, but I wanted to post one last thing. Below is the message I sent to all the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department today, and I wanted to share it publicly so they know how much they are appreciated:

"To the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department,

As you know, my retirement became effective this past weekend. I just wanted to take one last opportunity to thank you all and to encourage you to continue doing the best you can do.

It has been my honor to serve our community with you for the past 31-plus years. I’m proud of this organization. We have high-caliber sworn members and professional non-sworn members. Because of this, I continue to expect great things of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. We have great developing leaders at all levels, so the future looks bright.

One request I would make of you is to continue to be mindful of your wellness and that of your coworkers. This includes not just physical health but also mental and emotional well-being. That is one thing we focused on as an organization during my time as chief. Please continue to look out for each other’s welfare.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve as the leader of this organization for the last five-and-a-half years. Going forward, I know you will continue to impact our community for good."


- Darryl Forté

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I'm proud of KCPD members and our city

I would like to take the time to say how proud I am of the members of the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and thank them for their professionalism and service in keeping our community safe. KCPD members continue to show what compassionate and caring individuals they are. I continue to be proud of the professionalism and compassion they exhibit.

I am encouraged by and appreciate all the support we have received and continue to receive from other segments of the community. Messages are constantly flooding in on social media and elsewhere thanking me for all the department does. Our officers dole out small kindnesses every day that most people will never know.

But I would be remiss not to thank the people of Kansas City, as well. Thank you for your civility. Thank you for letting your thoughts be known in a peaceful manner. One of my main goals as chief of police is to improve relationships between KCPD and other segments of the community. We are working toward that every day. I look forward to continuing to build upon the relationships we have made thus far and enhancing the trust between police and our community.

I am proud and honored to serve such an engaged community and will continue to work together to make our city safe. Your continued support is needed and truly appreciated.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Revisiting bullying in the workplace

I have said publicly many times over the last several months how important it is that the members of KCPD are OK. And I mean OK physically, mentally, emotionally and many other ways. Because if they’re not OK in some way, it can affect their own safety and the service they provide. We want capable individuals to have satisfying careers here, and sometimes that can be derailed by how they’re treated within their own organization. Thinking about the well-being of everyone who works for the Kansas City Missouri Police Department reminds me of this post about bullying I wrote in September 2013. I wanted to share it again today, not because of any particular incident or pattern, but because it remains a concern of mine and because how it is handled can contribute to the success of our organization:

Heavy on my heart this morning is the subject of bullying – not cyber bullying, bullying at school or even sibling bullying – but workplace bullying. Bullying is not solely germane to those more commonly discussed areas. It frequently occurs in the workplace. 


I began writing this blog at 2:39 this morning. For some unknown reason, the topic was weighing on me with a sense of restlessness that I haven't felt in months. As I tried to discount the heaviness on my heart and to rationalize the restlessness as excitement for being on a few days of vacation, I realized I had to share the realities and perception of workplace bullying, especially in a law enforcement environment.

To the best of my knowledge, this topic has not been broached by any police department, and certainly not by the Kansas City Missouri Police Department. Realizing that it might not resonate well for some, I'll risk stirring the pot because this is a serious issue. But it would be a risk well worth the effort if it positively impacts the manner in which people are treated. Some might ask, "Why shine the light on the problem?" Because we must speak for those who can't speak for themselves!

Let me be clear, the issue within the KCPD is not systemic or wide-spread. Many of the bullies are no longer associated with the police department. The Kansas City Police Department is composed of courteous, dedicated and servant-minded individuals who have proven their commitment to our city.

At least on a weekly basis, I stress to my executive-level command staff the importance of ensuring all members of the department be respectful, courteous and fair, and that they immediately intervene if anyone is behaving unprofessionally. They've been asked to share my request and concerns with those they lead. They've been told if they see something, say something, and that no one should suffer in silence. Recently, executive level staff was provided a copy of "The Bully at Work," by Gary Namie, PhD, & Ruth Namie, PhD. This is one of many steps we'll take toward better identifying, addressing and eventually alleviating such an emotionally damaging practice.

In May of this year, the department's lead attorney from the Office of General Counsel began gathering information regarding internal suits, claims and EEOC charges of discrimination. The information will be reviewed to determine if policy and/or patterns of practices need to be revised.

As I reflect on my 28-year career with this great organization, I can't help but reflect on the many real incidents of bullying. Oftentimes, the bullies were in higher ranks or positions than those who were being bullied. I've witnessed and have been the victim of bullying at KCPD. I reported the bullying, and in most cases it was discounted as: "He does that to everyone," "You need thicker skin," or "Don't make any noise about that." As I progressed through the ranks of the department, I found better ways to confront bullies.


Throughout the years, many others have communicated their experiences, often hearing identical trite expressions from those who had the authority to intervene but didn’t. There have been incidents in which individuals were cursed out and even threatened, but no actions were taken against the bully. Transfers requests have been lost and denied without explanation. I've witnessed above-average yearly evaluations change to an employee who suddenly can't do anything right in the eyes of his immediate supervisor/commander. Most alarming, oftentimes no one intervened on behalf of the one being bullied. In some cases the bullies garnered the support of others, resulting in group bullying. The result in several cases was civil action being filed with monetary compensation being awarded to the bullied employee.

Although bullying can occur anywhere at any time, it's imperative to address bullying at its onset in a work environment. We must set the tone of non-tolerance, and most importantly, prevent the long-term emotional toll on those who are being bullied.

I encourage anyone who's being bullied to report the bullying to any supervisor or commander so the allegations can be properly investigated.

While not as prevalent as in my early years on the department, bullying still rears its destructive head far too often. I'll continue to promote employees who don't subscribe to the philosophy of going along to get along, but those who are willing to intervene to cease destructive practices, regardless of the personal consequences. I decided to express my feelings about this topic so others, within the department as well as those outside the department, might not stand by silently while others are tormented by unbridled bullies. I and many others have intervened to stop bullying over the years, and rest assured we'll continue to do so. My desire is that we create, nurture and maintain a bully-free environment and a culture that's comfortable sharing about any form of mistreatment.

I respectfully share this topic because it's important that all employees, as well as other segments of the community, understand what's being done to alleviate bullying within the KCPD.

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.

Friday, January 6, 2017

What the "48-hour rule" really looks like after an officer-involved shooting

The year 2016 brought about many positive changes in policing across the country. Locally, I’ve shared many of the ways we’ve updated our training over the past few years on everything from de-escalation to emotional proximity.

Despite top-notch training, police still are sometimes required to respond with deadly force. Earlier this year, I explained what happens in the investigation of an officer-involved shooting. I want to continue to address potential issues that have cropped up elsewhere before they become a point of contention in Kansas City. This past year, police departments in major cities have changed their policies regarding the so-called 48-hour rule for officers involved in a shooting to make a statement. In some places, these rules held that officers who had used deadly force could not be interviewed by investigators until 48 hours after the incident.

Let me first say that is not the case in Kansas City. Officers involved in a shooting here have up to 48 hours after the incident to voluntarily make a statement. Nothing prohibits them from coming in earlier. They can go straight from the scene to Headquarters to describe what happened, if they choose. Should the need arise to obtain a formal statement sooner rather than later for the purposes of filing charges and/or keeping a suspect in custody, officers are asked to make reasonable efforts to provide a statement to the Department within the timeframe necessary for filing charges.

We’ve heard criticism such as, “Well if I shot somebody, I’d be put in custody and taken to Headquarters and asked to give a statement.” If there was clear evidence of criminal wrong-doing, yes, you would. So would a police officer. If evidence at the scene indicates a police officer violated the law when using force, that officer also would be taken into custody and questioned. And both you and the officer would have the right to refuse to say anything. That’s why, upon arrest, police say, “You have the right to remain silent.” Both you and the officer would be presented with a Miranda form, and both of you could refuse to sign it and refuse to speak to detectives. And both the officer and you would have the right to legal representation should either of you decide to speak to detectives. Both cases would be considered criminal investigations.

On the flipside, if you shot a person in self-defense, and initial investigation determined that you acted lawfully, you would be given time (say, up to 48 hours) to come in and give a statement to police. A police officer who, upon initial investigation, also appears to have acted in self-defense gets the same treatment.

There have been numerous and sometimes conflicting studies on when the best time is for someone involved in a traumatic incident to make a statement: when their recall is most accurate, when might be most impactful on their mental health and a number of other factors. I’m not going to get into those here. I just wanted to provide some insight into how the “48-hour rule” following an officer-involved shooting in Kansas City really works. Fundamentally, a resident who shoots someone in self-defense is treated the same way an officer would be, and vice versa. Police officers have the same constitutional rights as any other citizen. 

Send comments to kcpdchiefblog@kcpd.org.