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Church council calls for resignation of Kansas City chief

March 18, 2021 GMT

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The regional body that represents the Presbyterian Church is joining other civil rights organizations in calling for the dismissal of Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith.

The Kansas City Star reports that the Heartland Presbytery said in a letter Thursday that the church wants the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners to hire a new chief who would protect residents equally and discipline officers who “act lawlessly, unethically and without proper respect, especially for Black and Brown people.”

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Capt. David Jackson, a spokesman for the Kansas City Police Department, said the chief has no plans to resign.

The letter from the council cited Smith’s “total lack of a working relationship” with Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who has said the department has refused to issue probable cause statements in use-of-force cases.

Representing 81 congregations and 173 ministers in Missouri and Kansas, the council commended some of Smith’s efforts, such as the deployment of body cameras. But it said his “lack of a working relationship” with the Black community was problematic.

Civil rights leaders have wanted Smith to resign or be fired for years, and the calls gained momentum after social justice demonstrations in Kansas City last summer.