Kansas City, Mo.: The beleaguered Kansas City police chief announced Tuesday that he is retiring just four days after a white forces officer was convicted of shooting and killing a black man.
Department spokesman Captain Leslie Foreman said in a statement that Chief Rick Smith, who has faced repeated calls to resign, would retire in 2022. He said Smith made a commitment to remain in the position for more than five years after being hired in August 2017.
The Kansas City Star reports that the announcement follows a city hall meeting with Smith, Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Board of Police Commissioners Mark Tolbert earlier in the day. The mayor’s office did not provide any information about the meeting.
Mayor Lucas will not discuss personnel matters in the press, “Spokesperson Morgan wrote in a text to the Associated Press. He commends all the dedicated women and men of the Kansas City Police Department.”
A Jackson County judge held the meeting after getting the date on Friday. Eric DeValkenaire, convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting murder of Cameron Lamb in 2019.
Many community members have long called for Smith’s departure, citing the fatal shootings of Lamb and other black people by police, a weak relationship with the community that worsened during protests last year and a dangerous many Murders happened. A record 182 murders took place in the city last year.
The police department paid out more than $5.8 million in claims over the past fiscal year, which is beyond budget.
Several groups have also requested the US Justice Department to investigate. And the relationship between Smith and the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office has also hit turbulent places, partly because of the refusal to hand over charge documents in at least four cases involving police department officers.
Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker’s office has indicted five officers. This includes the case of Devalkenair in which prosecutors alleged that the police had provided evidence. Peters Baker spokesman Mike Mansour declined to comment about the resignation announcement.
Lora McDonald, executive director of the social justice organization MORE2, said Smith had failed to hold her officers accountable.
“We need a police chief who believes that it is his job to investigate all shootings, regardless of who pulled the trigger and follow facts and evidence,” he said. We hope the new leadership will mean better outcomes for the entire community.
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