New Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté didn’t know what to expect at his first community forum on Saturday, where the public had the opportunity to speak with officers, commanders or even the chief himself.
More than 350 people showed up at the Robert Mohart Multipurpose Center.
“I didn’t expect this large of a crowd,” said Forté, a 26-year veteran promoted to chief on Oct. 13. “I’m very impressed with the responsiveness of the community. I think we’ve underestimated the desire of the community to work with us.”
Forté was surprised by something else, too.
“I thought we’d receive mostly negative feedback,” he said. “Sure, we had a few concerns. Noise disturbances, drug houses but most of it was positive. A large segment of the people I spoke with came to offer their assistance on reducing crime and helping the police department address community-related issues.”
Yolanda Irvin of Kansas City said forums are a good idea.
“How else are you supposed to know anything about the people in your community if you don’t talk to them?” she asked. “Because each one you resolve an issue for will then reach others. It’s like a chain reaction.”
Nicole Davis, a 36-year-old IRS employee from Kansas City, came to talk to the chief about the disrespectful way officers talked to her after she was stopped after an inaccurate report about a stolen car.
“He needs to hear my side of the story,” Davis said. “Because it’s not OK for you to disrespect me as a citizen, then two months later want me to come and report a crime. How am I supposed to trust you?”
After her meeting she was pleased that Forte had not only listened but said he would personally follow up on her complaint.
Fortésaid the communication would continue.
“This will be a quarterly forum,” he said. “And I pledge to be accessible to our entire community. Being chief of police is a ministry for me, and that’s the truth. I care.”