Judge rules mayor, city council broke state law in defunding the police – fight begins to kick them out of office

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KANSAS CITY, MO – Following a judge’s ruling that the Kansas City mayor and city council violated state law in a police defunding effort from earlier in 2021, a woman affiliated with the grassroots group Taking KC Back is leading the effort to have the city council members and the mayor thrown out of office.

On October 5th, Judge Patrick Campbell ruled that the city council’s approval of two ordinances arranged by Mayor Quinton Lucas that sought to deplete the Kansas City Police Department’s budget by $42.3 million was an overstepping of endowed authority – and a violation of state law.

Following that ruling, Shannon Bjornlie of Taking KC Back says that the law which was violated – Missouri Law § 84.860 – calls for not only a fine of $1,000 for each offender involved in the violation, but also calls for those found guilty of such to be barred from holding public office.

According to the state law Bjornlie references, the following is written regarding her assertion:

“Any officer or servant of the mayor or common council or municipal assembly of the said cities, or other persons whatsoever, who shall forcibly resist or obstruct the execution or enforcement of any of the provisions of sections 84.350 to 84.860… shall forever thereafter be disqualified from holding or exercising any office or employment whatsoever under the mayor or common council or municipal assembly of said cities.”

Bjornlie has reportedly reached out to Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt regarding the matter, urging the state AG to ensure that Mayor Lucas and the city council are being held to task on that portion of the statute.

Patrick McInerney, who represented the Board of Kansas City Police Commissioners in the lawsuit regarding the attempted police defunding, said that the police board are not looking to fulfill the punishment aspect of the statute, being content with having stopped the removal of police funds:

“The board sought exactly the relief the judge ordered – nothing else.”

Nonetheless, Bjornlie says that following the attempted police defunding, recall efforts have been picking up steam. Currently, there are recall petitions floating around for Mayor Lucas, and city council members Katheryn Shields, Brandon Ellington, Andrea Bough, Lee Barnes and Kevin O’Neill.

Bjornlie says that Mayor Lucas’ statement delivered after the court’s ruling earlier in October was what ignited an increased interest in a recall election, as Mayor Lucas said that police defunding will be explored again in 2022 when budget adjustments and allocations can be lawfully arranged:

“I think that this ruling and the fact that the mayor made the statement that he did is going to garner us more support.”

The recall effort has roughly 30 days to garner 13,713 signatures for each council member and the mayor, which Bjornlie is optimistic in being able to achieve.

What Bjornlie hopes is that more national news outlets will cover the recall effort, citing that the local news has been “silent” on the matter:

“If I could figure out how to get the national news to cover it I would, because the local news for the most part is silent.”

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Already defunded Seattle Police facing losing nearly 300 cops – or more than 1/4 of their force – this month alone

(Originally published October 7th, 2021)

SEATTLE, WA – According to reports, the Seattle Police Department could lose as much as 27% of their sworn officers by mid-October due to the city’s mandate that state employees and healthcare workers be fully vaccinated by October 18th.

Back in August, Governor Jay Inslee announced a vaccination mandate that would require most state employees and healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated by October 18th.

Said mandate by Governor Inslee was also adopted in King County and the city of Seattle, which has set the stage for the current debacle regarding the potential loss of as many as 292 sworn officers for the Seattle Police Department.

In order for employees to be considered fully vaccinated by October 18th, those employees would’ve had to have received either their final dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by October 4th.

According to an update from the Seattle Police Department as of October 6th, 292 sworn officers have yet to provide proof of their vaccination status.

While officers are able to apply for various exemptions regarding the vaccine mandate, be they religious or medical reasons, it’s unclear what percent – in any – are among those 292 officers that have yet to provide proof of their vaccination status.

Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz sent out a letter to staff on October 1st regarding the impending vaccination deadline, acknowledging that staffing issues could arise if the deadline isn’t met:

“I am asking anyone who has not submitted this information to please get it done. In preparation for the City Vaccination mandate, SPD has constructed various staffing plans for how we continue to ensure continuity of emergency and legally-mandated services. In order to have the least amount of disruptions to our personnel we need to know how many individuals are cleared, under city vaccination rules.

At the moment – we have to assume we have hundreds of unvaccinated individuals based on the information submitted. This could create a disruption to unit of assignments.”

Back in August, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on how lengthy police response times were in Seattle in the wake of concerning attrition numbers the Seattle Police Department experienced reportedly stemming from anti-police protests and riots throughout 2020.

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Here’s our previous report from this past August detailing the difficulties Seattle Police are already dealing with due to their already-depleted force.

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Welcome to police-defunded Seattle, where cop response times exceed 60 minutes for certain calls

(Originally published August 11th, 2021)

SEATTLE, WA – According to reports, Seattle Police’s response times for certain calls are exceeding 60 minutes, a result that officials say is directly tied to the ongoing staffing crisis that the Seattle Police Department is experiencing.

During the Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee meeting held on August 10th, the issues revolving around police response times and staffing shortages for the department were brought up while discussing the SPD Quarterly Finance and Staffing Report.

Back in May, reports noted that the Seattle Police Department lost nearly 20% of their police force, with approximately 260 officers leaving the department – which much of that attrition was credited toward the intense anti-police protests and police reforms enacted in Washington.

Councilmember Alex Pedersen commented during the August 10th city council meeting that this is overall “concerning”:

“This attrition is concerning and when we look at 911 response times as well.”

Dr. Antonio Oftelie, a Court Monitor of Seattle Police, warns that the current staffing levels within the Seattle Police Department runs the risk of the agency not being able to adhere to a federal judge’s imposed consent decree that called for reforms like community policing:

“What we can’t do is starve the organization so much, you cannot do community policing. SPD is stuck right now where they are only doing responding to crisis and they don’t have the people and resources to do true community policing.”

Council member Teresa Mosqueda inferred that Seattle Police’s staffing crisis and response times problem is mostly the fault of Seattle Police, noting that “the council fully funded the hiring plan as proposed by the mayor’s office.”

Yet, a spokesperson for Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office funds that the attrition rate within Seattle Police is more heavily tied to the rhetoric coming from the city council, highlighting how the council has pushed for a 50% reduction in police officers in Seattle:

“Over the past year, the City Council has advocated for cutting 50 percent of officers, threatened out of order layoffs, and cut the salary of former Chief Carmen Best and her leadership staff. The City Council continues to hold millions of dollars of department budget hostage and has yet to act on the Mayor and SPD’s comprehensive budget proposal.”

“If the Council President now cares about recruitment and retention at the Seattle Police Department, she should look at departing officers’ exit memos who note lack of support from City Council as a key reason for job dissatisfaction and separation then vote to immediately to support the Mayor and SPD’s proposal regarding hiring and retention.”

“Publicly promising to fire 50 percent of your workforce is a failed retention strategy, which is why Mayor Durkan, former Chief Best, and Interim Chief Diaz have warned City Council against layoffs and blunt cuts.”

Christopher Fisher, Seattle Police’s Strategic Initiatives Director, said that internal polling from the department shows that even active officers wouldn’t recommend to their own family members to come work at the department:

“On a scale of negative 100 to positive 100, how would you endorse a family member coming to work where you work? SPD’s is negative 50. Which is bad.”

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