Isaiah 58:12 prophetically declares: And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to repair the breach when you have those in power hell-bent on widening the divide. That’s why I am vehemently opposed to Amendment 4 on the upcoming Missouri ballot. It is widening the divide between lawmakers and locals – people who see hurt every day and those who hear about this hurt remotely.
The ballot language of Amendment 4 permits the Missouri Legislature to mandate that the City of Kansas City, Missouri, devote no less than one-fourth of its general revenues (up from one-fifth) to fund the Kansas City Police Department:
Currently, the only police force established by the state board of police commissioners is found in Kansas City, Missouri.
A ‘no’ vote will not amend the Missouri Constitution regarding the funding for a police force established by the state board of police commissioners
It’s interesting that when you are treated for an illness, a doctor will ask, “Can you tell me where you hurt?” That’s local control or local responsibility. The patient knows where and what needs to be treated on their body for optimal health. The job of the doctor is to confirm what the patient is expressing and provide the remedies based on both assessments. Amendment 4 only considers what the state thinks and no one else.
Amendment 4 is taxation without local representation. I strongly believe that local budget decisions should be decided by local elected officials. This is a decision best left to the Kansas City, Missouri, City Council – not the Missouri General Assembly and a statewide vote.
I am a critical friend of the Kansas City Police Department. I am a friend because I truly respect what they do and applaud them for a level of public safety. However, I am critical because we need better policing across our city in order for Kansas City to become a safe city in every zip code.
Let’s get to the heart of the matter – Amendment 4 creates a dangerous exception to the Missouri constitution, which prohibits an increase in the level of any activity or service mandated by the general assembly or a state agency of other Missouri political subdivisions unless the state pays for any increased costs. If passed, Amendment 4 could lead to other constitutional amendments that harm Missouri’s local governments and taxpayers by creating unfunded mandates on local governments.
This amendment seems to be a whipping post for disagreeing with the Massa (a term used for slave master). It seems that certain communities in Kansas City will be punished for seeing the solution to their problems as utilizing a path other than increased policing. I do not know one major leader of color in my city who wants to “defund the police.” We do believe there ought to be greater transparency, accountability, and a reallocation of some of your vast resources to faith communities and agencies who know how to heal the places that hurt.
When we consider how all of this started, it seems that Amendment 4 is about who gets to wield power. The nonprofit and nonpartisan Ballotpedia helpfully collected some important information that speaks to this:
State Rep. Doug Richey (R-38), a supporter of Amendment 4, brought up two ordinances passed by the Kansas City Council in 2021. ‘The actions of the mayor and city council last year raised tremendous alarm regarding the stability of funding for something as important as the Kansas City Police Department,’ Richey said. One ordinance would have given city leaders more control over the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), and another would have reduced the funding of the KCPD by $42.3 million. This led to a lawsuit filed by the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners against Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and the Kansas City Council. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patrick W. Campbell later found that the Kansas City Council violated state law in plans to reallocate the $42.3 million.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas pointed out that if Amendment 4 were to pass, it would further take away the already limited local control over crucial resources. “I do not support anything that takes away our ability to work with our local police department and neighborhood leaders in terms of how we get to better solutions for violent crime,” Lucas said.
Darron L. Edwards, Sr. is lead pastor of United Believers Community Church in Kansas City, Missouri.