Archive for August 2014

Task force created to increase diversity in KCK public safety staff

Mayor Mark Holland today outlined a plan to increase diversity in the police, fire and sheriff’s departments.

The level of minority staffing in these departments does not come up to the level of minorities in the population of Kansas City, Kan., according to Unified Government figures. The topic was discussed at a special Unified Government Commission meeting at 5 p.m.

A task force will examine the diversity of the staffing of the departments, Holland said. Already, a group has held several meetings on the subject of diversity for months, and a larger community task force will be appointed that will develop recommendations for steps that may be taken, Holland said.

Kansas City, Kan., has a 26.8 percent black population, and a 27.8 percent Hispanic population, according to UG figures from the census. Currently, the police department is 11.6 percent black and 10.7 percent Hispanic, according to UG figures.

Holland said some public forums would be held beginning in October to receive public comments.

Because Kansas City, Kan., leads the metro area and much of the nation in diversity in the community, Holland said he expected public safety departments here to lead in diversity as well. He said he would like to develop a model that could be used in other communities.

After the discussion about increasing diversity in the public safety departments, Interim Police Chief Ellen Hanson addressed questions about the police department’s use of force, and other areas such as improving relationships in the community. Commissioner Gayle Townsend had asked the chief to answer questions.

Chief Hanson reported that since Jan. 1 of this year, Kansas City, Kan., has had 426 gun crimes, and 23 of those persons were killed, most with a weapon. Ninety-seven persons were shot who survived; 197 persons were threatened with firearms but not shot; 109 incidents resulted in 198 victims of crime where people were shooting into a dwelling; 154 of those victims were adults and 44 were juveniles.

“There are a lot of weapons out there in the hands of people who are more than willing to use them,” Hanson said.

The department’s policy on the use of lethal force is that officers are trained to neutralize the threat. She said that all officers hope they don’t have to use their weapons. She and other police officials went into detail about the definition of justified force.

“They work very hard every day to keep you safe, they work hard every day to connect with the community,” she said.

She said after news reports about the incident in Ferguson, Mo., the police department here reached out to the community to learn what people are thinking, and to work with leaders and residents.

She also reported that the police department has long been involved in community outreach efforts, meeting regularly with groups throughout the community, being involved in community policing, and attending many organization meetings, working with students, as well as meeting with businesses and individuals.

“We’re not doing that in response to Ferguson. We’re doing that because it has always been an important element of making our jobs effective and successful, because without the community we cannot be successful,” she said.


2014 ‘Reasons to Believe’ Alumni Honor Roll announced

Their achievements and life-stories will be used to inspire today’s students as they plan for their futures. The 2014 Class of the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools’ Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll has been selected.

The 12 alumni will be recognized this fall at the 2014 Reasons to Believe Celebration. The event is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, November 20 at the KCKPS Central Office and Training Center. The event is open to the public.

Members of the 2014 Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll:

• Nedra Bonds, artist-social activist, Wyandotte High School Class of 1966
• Norman Brown, jazz guitarist, Wyandotte High School Class of 1982
• Wesley Guy Burt, artist-illustrator, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science Class of 1999
• Phil Dixon, author-historian-speaker, Wyandotte High School Class of 1974
• Dr. Simone Ariana Ellis, dentist, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science Class of 2001
• Lloyd Freeman, attorney, Sumner Academy of Arts and Science Class of 2000
• A. Drue Jennings, retired CEO of KCP&L, Argentine Junior-Senior High Class of 1964
• Marcus Newsom, assistant athletic director-coach at Wartburg College, Schlagle High School Class of 1988
• LeeRoy Pitts, retired educator, Sumner High School Class of 1951
• Harold Simmons, retired police detective, Wyandotte High School Class of 1965
• R. Jayson Strickland, KCKPS administrator, Washington High School Class of 1990
• Christi Walter, health systems scientist, Harmon High School Class of 1976

Reasons to Believe was established in 2002 to generate pride and celebrate the progress being made throughout the district. As part of the program, nominations are sought for the Reasons to Believe Alumni Honor Roll, which spotlights successful alumni to encourage and inspire today’s students. The nominations are reviewed by a panel of judges that includes representation from the Board of Education, the Reasons to Believe Steering Committee, students, business leaders, and a former Alumni Honor Roll recipient.

The 2014 Reasons to Believe Celebration annually showcases the high caliber of graduates that the district produces and brings a select group of them together with staff, students, community members, colleagues and key leaders for a night of honors.

To review past Honor Roll classes or to learn more about the program, go to

– Story from Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools


Public rally scheduled for ‘Taking Back Kansas’

The Women For Kansas convention will be opened Friday night, Aug. 29, in Wichita by approximately 500 women in yellow and green Women-for-Kansas T-shirts marching en masse from the convention hotel to the public rally.

The procession, led by school-aged drummers, will move from the hotel, across the street, and into the park.

The rally will be held at A. Price Woodard Park, on the west side of Century II, across the street from the convention hotel, the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview, Wichita. The rally starts at 5:30 p.m., and the speakers begin at 5:45. The rally is not limited to registrants of the convention. The public is invited to attend.

The convention itself is open only to those who are registered.

The Cherokee Maidens with local singer, song-writer legend Robin Macy accompanied by Sycamore Swing will perform. Following the musical performance, the speakers will deliver stories that will energize participants to “take back Kansas.”

Speakers at the rally include:
• Vickie Stangl, private citizen from Wichita;
• Stephanie Harsin, educator from Topeka;
• Lindsey Benage, health care access advocate; and
• Anna Jenney, high school student concerned about her state.
There will be food trucks. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets.

The convention is being held by Women for Kansas, a grassroots women’s initiative designed to energize and educate women from across the state and give them the knowledge and tools to go back to their communities to get out the vote for a new Kansas governor, secretary of state and U.S. senator. Thus far more than 500 women from 88 communities will be attending the convention. Workshops, speaker, training sessions, videos and social media will be used.

Sessions at the convention will cover education funding; tax inequities; healthcare funding and privatization; immigration, and the more than 20,000 Kansans whose voting rights are in limbo because of the new state voter registration law.