KANSAS CITY, KAN. ---- The Unified Government's first Public Safety Recruitment Task Force meeting was held last week.
Mayor Mark Holland convened the first meeting of the Mayor's Public Safety Recruitment Task Force last week.
The group includes representatives from the Kansas City Kansas Police, Sheriff and Fire Departments, the Unified Government (UG) County Administrator's Office, El Centro, the Black Police Officers Association, Latino Peace Officers Association, all Wyandotte County School Districts, the Archdiocese, Donnelly College, Kansas City Kansas Community College and appointees from each UG Commissioner.
Mayor Holland began assembling the Task Force early this year after attending a November 2013 Fire Department Graduation Ceremony and observing just one Hispanic graduate, no African Americans and only one woman in a class made up of 42 highly qualified new recruits.
Only 25% of the graduates were local to the County. By contrast, only 40% of the current population of Wyandotte County is Caucasian; 27% are African American, 28% Hispanic and 7% claim another ethnicity.
The Mayor appointed local pastor, Rev. Jimmie Banks, as Chairman of the Task Force and asked the Department of Justice to participate in the conversations. The committee met three times between April and August this year to begin collecting data on public safety recruitment policies and department practices.
"The Department of Justice brings national credibility to our local Task Force" said Mayor Holland. "We sought out their expertise last year in response to a real disconnect between the makeup of our public safety personnel and our residents.
While we began this process more than a year ago, the events of Ferguson, MO have only added urgency and resolve around the work we're doing. We must get to the bottom of this issue to prevent tragedy in our own community."
The Task Force will host a public forum and develop an action plan that includes concrete steps the Unified Government Commission and Administration can take to address this issue.
The Mayor has set a deadline of April 2015, so if suggested proposals include financial implications they can be discussed before the UG Commission begins budget talks later in the spring.
The initial Public Safety presentation made by Mayor Holland on August 28, 2014 is available for viewing anytime on the Unified Government's YouTube page.