Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens has temporarily withdrawn the appointments of a minister and former federal prosecutor to serve on the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners.
Bishop Mark C. Tolbert and Nathan F. Garrett were to replace Angela Wasson-Hunt and Michael Rader, whose terms have expired. Tolbert and Garrett were scheduled to be sworn in during the police board meeting Tuesday morning. Longtime board member Alvin Brooks also recently resigned to join the Hickman Mills school board.
Wasson-Hunt and Rader will remain on the board until their replacements are named.
Scott Turk, director of boards and commissions for Greitens, sent an email to city officials Monday evening to alert them of the decision. No explanation was given.
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The decision to withdraw the names for now is likely a procedural move to avoid having the nominations held up by the Missouri Senate. Greitens has called state legislators back to Jefferson City to consider protections for religious organizations opposed to abortion and take up new regulations for abortion providers.
Garrett and Tolbert are expected to be reappointed to the police board after the special legislative session has ended.
Any appointments Greitens makes to the police board will require the Senate’s approval when it returns in January for the 2018 session.
Neither Garrett nor Tolbert could immediately be reached for comment.
Mayor Sly James said commissioners Wasson-Hunt and Rader are better suited to continue the search for a new police chief.
“It’s unfortunate that we are having this kind of start and stop,” James said during Tuesday’s police board meeting. “We’re in the middle of a search for a new police chief, and that search needs to go on, and frankly it would be better with the old board members here because they have a history and know what some of the issues are.
“The governor has already withdrawn those folks; I would suggest just leave the old board members on until we get the search done so we can move forward. There’s nobody in a better position than the now interim board members to get this done, and we need to get this done fast,” he said.
Some civic and community leaders say Greitens wants to name board members who will allow him to influence the selection of a new police chief. Kansas City has the only police department in the nation that is not run by local officials.
Tolbert’s name was among those that state Sen. Kiki Curls, a Kansas City Democrat, submitted to the governor’s office for potential nominees to the police board.
Garrett has worked a municipal police officer, Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper, and county and federal prosecutor. He currently is a lawyer in private practice along with former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, who is chairman of the Missouri Republican Party.