A judge in Jackson County, Missouri, took a stand for police officers on Tuesday when he ruled that the Kansas City mayor and city council violated the law with their attempt to defund the police.
WDAF reported that Missouri 16th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Patrick Campbell ruled that the city council could not change the police department’s budget after appropriations without first getting consent from the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners. The city had defunded the police back in May, one month after the Kansas City Police Department’s (KCPD) 2021-2022 budget was approved by the Board of Police Commissioners.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the city council immediately passed two ordinances that pretty much defunded the police department. Their plan was that $42.2 million be removed from the $223 million police budget and put it into a Community Services and Prevention Fund. According to the ordinances, the police board would need to negotiate with the city council over how the $42.2 million would be used.
While Lucas claimed that this was about accountability, many just saw this as his way of defunding the police department.
The Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners fired back by suing the city, claiming that the mayor and city council had overstepped their authority with the ordinances. In the lawsuit, they claimed that Mayor Lucas notified Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith of the shift in the police budget via voicemail for the first time the very same day the city council passed the ordinances.
On Tuesday, Judge Campbell ruled in favor of the police, issuing a writ of mandamus requiring the city to put the $42.2 million back in the police department’s budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The judge also found that the mayor and city council broke the law when it passed ordinances to change police department funding after the board had blessed the final police department budget.
The police department immediately released a statement celebrating the judge’s ruling.
“KCPD engages in the budget process six months ahead of when the budget year begins,” the statement read. “The police department puts a great deal of effort into this process, as does the city. This budget process directly affects not only the police department and the city but the members in our community. We appreciate the court recognized the validity of the 2020-2021 budget process.”
Mayor Lucas, however, was not nearly as pleased with the judge’s ruling. He issued a statement of his own in which he made a veiled threat about future budget approvals.
“I imagine the Council will set the expectation that any dollar received by the Department over statutory requirements must be negotiated and focused squarely on preventing violent crime in our community,” Lucas said. “Discussions about next year’s budget have already started. I will continue working with the City and Department leadership to ensure every taxpayer-funded entity in our City shares a role in working to prevent violent crime and create better outcomes for all people in all of our neighborhoods.”
Lucas added that the city is considering appealing the judge’s ruling.