UG Commission quizzes police chief candidates

Unified Government commissioners each asked a question of the four candidates for police chief at the 5 p.m. UG Commission meeting April 15.

The meeting was part of the selection process for the Kansas City, Kansas, police chief candidates, UG Administrator Doug Bach explained. Bach is to make the selection of the police chief after receiving community and commission responses. An advisory committee is giving its opinions on the candidates. A community survey also was conducted on the qualities residents wanted to see in candidates.

Bach said the candidates will be interviewed more on Friday, and more background checks will be conducted. Bach said he would meet with commissioners one at a time to get their opinions, and he is expected to receive more opinions from an advisory committee. The expected hiring date is in May.

At the end of the meeting UG Commissioner Christian Ramirez requested another meeting so the UG commissioners could discuss the finalists and possibly present a unified commission recommendation to the administrator. Commissioner Ramirez said it was imperative, especially during a time of social and racial injustice, to see the governing body working together with the administration to find a chief that fits the community. Commissioner Mike Kane agreed.

Mayor David Alvey, however, said procedures for the selection have already been set, and the commissioners would talk to Bach individually to provide their opinions.

Commissioner Kane said that with some recent news stories about the police department, it would be important that the commission be involved more in the selection. Mayor Alvey, who is running for re-election, added he would take it under advisement, and if so, they might convene a special executive session.

The police chief selection process here has taken more than a year, and there were originally 19 applicants, according to a UG spokesman. The applicants were narrowed down to the final four.

Commissioner Harold Johnson asked the candidates what strategies they would use to increase the diversity of the police force in recruitment and in promotion.

Pamela Waldeck, the current deputy chief of police in Kansas City, Kansas, said the department started a year ago with minority officers assisting in the recruiting. They made a video with African American officers speaking directly to the African American community in trying to recruit more officers, she said. They also reached out to community organizations and went into neighborhoods to recruit, she added.

Waldeck, who has been with the police department since 1997, said she would like to implement a full-time recruiting staff, as those who are recruiting now are on temporary assignments. Two full-time recruiting officers could visit local high schools and colleges and have conversations with potential recruits, she said. They also could meet with church groups and organizations to build relationships, she added.

Vince Davenport, who was with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department 25 years before going to the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, where he is the associate deputy director, said he would start by bringing adequate diverse representation to the table and crafting a written strategic plan.

The chief needs to put out a call to serve countywide, even challenging people at different workplaces to consider changing careers, Davenport said. He also said it would be important to work together with young people as well as the Black police officers’ association and the Latino officers’ association in crafting the plan.

Karl Oakman, deputy chief of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, where he has been a member for 29 years, said he worked with that department on recruiting around 20 years ago, creating an open testing concept. They made the recruiting process easy, and all the candidates had to do was show up at a classroom with their driver’s license and take a test, he said. When they passed the test, then they could work on getting the other necessary documents, he added. Oakman said this removed a hurdle early in the process, and they had some of the largest participation ever in a test. That year they had the largest minority participation in the academy, he added.

He also said they looked at the process to eliminate other hurdles. For example, some people cannot wait eight months to a year to get hired, so he looked at the process to find out how to reduce the time while maintaining the requirements to be an officer, Oakman said. He said they also successfully recruited police officers at historically Black colleges. Oakman also said he had an eight-point objective plan for KCK, including an innovative strategy to recruit and train a diverse work force.

Rich Austin, chief of police of Milton, Georgia, said diverse teams are stronger and police departments should be reflective of the communities they serve. A lot of agencies want to cast a wide net to get people in the door, but that’s not the best way to go about it, he said.

Austin said everyone in the police department should be a recruiter, on the lookout in their own community for people who could become community police officers, people they would want to work with and who have high integrity. While they would still need a centralized recruiting officer to go to job fairs and process applications, he believes the best strategy is for all officers to become recruiters.

Commissioner Ramirez’s question was about how the chief would handle immigration, and Commissioner Kane asked about how they work with the union. To hear more of the candidates’ responses on the questions, see the meeting video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUlF684F6HI.

Some development projects on tonight’s UG committee agenda

Two Unified Government committees are scheduled to meet, starting at 5 p.m. Monday, March 29.

On the agenda for the Economic Development and Finance Committee, which starts after the Neighborhood and Community Development Committee, is a resolution authorizing the Board of Public Utilities to enter into a loan agreement with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment of up to $25 million for several projects.

Also on the EDF agenda is a resolution adopting the Kaw River Bridge Cooperative and Development agreement, bridge lease agreement and public use condo unit license and management agreement for the historic Rock Island Railroad Bridge near the historic stockyards district.

The EDF committee also is expected to set a public hearing date of May 13 for the Riverfront Redevelopment District.

Also on the EDF agenda is a resolution to adopt Economic Development Department policies on TIF and industrial revenue bonds.

On the agenda for the Neighborhood and Community Development Committee, which begins at 5 p.m., are a number of Land Bank applications.

There are 26 single-family homes on the Land Bank applications, through CHWC, Rivers Edge East subdivision.

Listed for applications were:
Phase 1, six homes, 2021, at 3036 N. Getty St., 3030 N. Getty St., 3022 N. Getty St., 3016 N. Getty St., 1726 Roswell Ave. and 2940 N. Getty St.
Phase 2, six homes, 2022, all at 2938 N. Getty St. (north of 18th and Quindaro).
Phase 3, six homes, 2023, 3027 N. Getty St., 3021 N. Getty St., 3033 N. Getty t., 3039 N. Getty St., 3045 N. Getty St., 3031 N. 18th St.
Kristi Smith High, one home, 202 Stewart Ave., 204 Stewart Ave., 206 Stewart Ave.
Karan Gupta, two homes, 844 Tauromee Ave., 848 Tauromee Ave.
Cinnamon Campbell, two homes, 914 Oakland Ave., 916 Oakland Ave.
Maribel Cortez, one home, 3517 N. 47th St.
Habitat for Humanity, 3008 N. 30th St. Application was delayed two months because of its distance from the Quindaro townsite.
New construction, home addition:
Victor Alfonso Laozano, 3052 N. 31st St. , with staff advisory.
New construction, row houses, requested 3 Land Bank lots:
Luminary Transformations, 8 units, 1026 Oakland Ave., 1030 Oakland Ave., 1038 Oakland Ave. Staff advisory.
New construction, commercial:
Oliver Tanner, open air food plaza, 3119 Strong Ave.

Land Bank property transfers:
Yard extension, Cassandra Bitterman, 627 Shawnee Road. Lot is unbuildable by Land Bank policy.

The meetings will be on Zoom, on YouTube and on UGTV cable television.

UG budget hearing planned Thursday night

A public hearing on the Unified Government budget is planned for the 7 p.m. UG Commission meeting Thursday, March 11.

It will be a Zoom meeting. The virtual budget hearing will be on priorities for the UG budget and community development program.

The UG Commission held a budget strategic planning meeting about a week ago, on March 4. The four-hour meeting may be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVYIalWx3JE.

Another public hearing at 7 p.m. March 11 is on issuing industrial revenue bonds for the Milhaus multifamily project, an apartment project at the former Schlitterbahn waterpark site near 94th and State Avenue. The proposal is to issue IRBs up to $45 million for the project. It is part of the Homefield project.

A third public hearing March 11 is on issuing industrial revenue bonds for the Legends 267 multifamily apartment project. The proposal is to issue bonds up to $54.8 million to finance the apartment project. It is near the parking garage at The Legends Outlets.

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda for the UG Commission meeting March 11:

• A resolution to extend the state of emergency through June 15 for the COVID-19 pandemic;

• A resolution for the UG to participate in a nationwide Stepping Up initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails;

• An amendment to the 18th Street Expressway Menards development agreement, with mostly minor changes;

• A resolution authorizing the UG to enter into a master equipment lease – purchase agreement with Banc of America Public Capital Corp.

• A budget revision to support costs of the Health Department’s county-wide COVID-19 pandemic vaccination effort.

• The addition of a planning and zoning agenda to the April 8 full commission meeting.

• Appointment of Erica M. Simpson to the Wyandotte County Library Board, nomination by Commissioner Mike Kane.

• Recognition of parks’ heroes.

• Proclamation of COVID heroes week.

• Approval of Land Bank option applications, a single family home at 2630 N. 102nd; and a garage at 1310 Troup.

• A yard extension at 923 Pacific Ave.

• Land Bank property transfers, administrative actions moving properties to the current owner and out of the Land Bank’s inventory, and many are BPU properties:

• 605 N. 110th St., communication tower; 10301 T Troup Ave., water tower; 6543 Riverview Ave., service center complex; 6617 Riverview, service center complex; 6632 R Riverview, service center complex; 6515 Riverview, service center complex; 6541 Riverview, service center complex; 5535 Parallel, water reservoir and pump station; 4139 Brenner Drive, water production; 4151 Nearman Drive, water production; 1415 N. 40th St., water tower; 2206 Vernon Ave., communication tower; 1817 N. 11th, substation; 375 S. 11th, part of parking lot; 300 Shawnee Ave, substation; 1734 S. 16th St., substation, transmission, Google hut; 1740 S. 16th, substation transmission; 2116 S. 11th Place, communication tower; and 1839 S. 10th St., transmission.

A UG Commission special session will be held at 5 p.m. March 11 by Zoom.

A COVID-19 vaccine update is on the 5 p.m. agenda. An executive, closed session will be held after the special session in the fifth floor meeting room at City Hall, according to the agenda.

The meetings are expected to be shown on UGTV, cable channel 2 on Spectrum and channel 141 on Google TV, as well as on Youtube.

To connect to the Zoom meeting, visit https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81734748212?pwd=VHk3VDZIQnlxS1FKc2lvbmhlUjNyQT09.

The passcode is 684586.

To connect by telephone, dial toll free 877-853-5257 or toll free 888-475-4499.

The webinar ID is 817 3474 8212.

The UG also has a citizen and community stakeholder budget survey online at https://us.openforms.com/Form/c3b8e229-48f2-4327-b1a6-cdafd127f996.