Kansas Citys mayor and police chief need to re-examine security for Sly James in wake of Tuesdays startling incident at the Gem Theater.
By Yael T. Abouhalkah
The Kansas City Star
James took the understandable approach just minutes after a man walked on stage, interrupted his State of the City speech and was physically pulled away from the podium by two of James bodyguards.
Im not going to question my security, he told reporters.
James pointed out that we dont live that way in saying he cant be 100 percent protected all the time. And he pointed out that his bodyguards had protected him in other incidents, most notably shoving him to the ground in 2011 when gunshots were heard nearby on the Country Club Plaza.
But Police Chief Darryl Forte had said just minutes earlier of security for the mayor: Well look at it.
This is a serious incident, added Forte, who was in the back of the theater during the speech but rushed to the stage during the incident.
Yes, it was a serious incident, one that will suck the wind out of the sails of what the mayor accurately reported Tuesday: The citys making lots of progress on a number of fronts.
The man who climbed on stage did not harm the mayor or make a move to do so. He was, however, physically and verbally abusive after being tackled and taken away from the podium.
James is absolutely correct in saying he cant be protected all the time - just like Kansas Citians cant be, either.
But when the mayor is giving a major policy speech before Kansas Citys movers and shakers, when he is trying to pump up the citys image, its up to the Kansas City Police Department as well as James security detail to be on extra alert.
Thats especially true when this major event is being held outside of City Hall, where theres more built-in security, such as railings and locked doors in the mayors office and in the City Councils chamber.
Bottom line: The mayors security detail reacted quickly and efficiently today.
But could the pre-speech security have been better? Could the police or his bodyguards have been in place to have prevented the man from walking on stage? Should more police or his bodyguards be closer to the mayor when hes making a major speech like this in an relatively intimate space?
Forte is right: Those and other questions need to be looked at in determining how to avoid other serious incidents in the future.