The Kansas City social justice group More2 continued to work Monday night on the subject of forming an independent monitor to investigate fatal police shootings in Kansas City.
“We need to do things quickly and effectively,” said Kiku Brooks of Zion Grove Missionary Baptist Church, who is a co-chairwoman of the crime and justice task force for More2 (More Squared). “Although my heart and passion wants to get things done right away, it’s a process.”
The group is headed in the direction of proposing a citizens review board that would investigate fatal police shootings, but it hasn’t decided how that board would be formed or how it would be made up. Brooks said she hopes that its members don’t get discouraged by the amount of work required and that it doesn’t lose the momentum it has.
“I honestly feel that is where the breakdown of trust begins,” Brooks said of police being in charge of investigating the shootings. “We don’t trust the people who our tax dollars are paying to protect us because there is no transparency.”
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She likened it to hiring someone to clean your house, but not being able to have any input on how the house should be kept clean to your liking, even though you have to live and function there.
“We just want to make it where there’s transparency and that the citizens of Kansas City are treated fairly,” she said.
The discussion came during More2’s monthly meeting. While three other task forces discussed health care, education and workforce issues, a little more than a dozen people discussed the independent monitor issue.
In January, More2 called on the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners to take action in the wake of a series in The Star that found Kansas City police had shot and killed 47 people from 2005 to 2015. That was a higher per capita rate than in many other cities. None of the officers was charged with a crime, and police said that in each case the shooting was justified.
The fatal police shootings of black men last week in Baton Rouge, La., and suburban Minneapolis renew the urgency that Brooks feels in forming the independent monitor.
“It means there’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” Brooks said. “We have to move.”
Darnell Hunt of Olathe attended the meeting for the first time, and he believes that a citizens review board is needed.
“It’s important because the process as it currently stands isn’t transparent,” Hunt said. “We don’t know what is going on, and we need to shed some light on it.”
He questioned the idea of how effectively an entity could police itself.
“I’m sure that there are instances where it does” work out, he said. “But we have all this discourse because of the way that things are being done, so it’s ripe for change now.”
He believes independent monitors shouldn’t stop at Kansas City, but should go nationwide.
Rabbi Doug Alpert of Congregation Kol Ami, who is a co-chairman of More2’s criminal justice task force, said that Monday night was a start.
“No, we didn’t get everything accomplished — there’s a lot to do, and there’s a lot of moving parts between local and state,” he said.
“The events of last week give it more emotional immediacy, but the work started long before that,” he said. “We haven’t changed our notion of what work needs to be done.”