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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Missouri

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 10, 2015

Press Conference Statement by U.S. Attorney Tammy Dickinson

Memorandum of Understanding for the Investigation and Potential Prosecution of Civil Rights Violations

IN THE WAKE OF COUNTLESS HIGH-PROFILE INCIDENTS ACROSS THE COUNTRY THAT HAVE THRUST US INTO A NATIONAL DIALOGUE OVER THE USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE, OFFICER AND PUBLIC SAFETY AND A FESTERING LACK OF TRUST BETWEEN POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND THE COMMUNITIES THEY SERVE, WE ARE HERE TODAY TO ANNOUNCE AN UNPRECEDENTED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING THAT HAS BEEN SIGNED BY EACH ONE OF US.

ALL OF US HERE TODAY ARE COMMITTED TO UPHOLDING THE HIGHEST STANDARDS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT THROUGHOUT THE COMMUNITY.  EVERY MEMBER OF THE COMMUNITY EXPECTS AND DESERVES THE PROTECTION OF LAW ENFORCEMENT THAT IS EFFECTIVE, RESPONSIVE, RESPECTFUL AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, CONSTITUTIONAL.  EACH DAY, THANKS TO THE TIRELESS DEDICATION OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO WEAR THE BADGE, CITIZENS OF OUR COMMUNITY RECEIVE JUST THAT.  BUT WHEN COMMUNITY MEMBERS FEEL THEY ARE NOT RECEIVING THAT KIND OF POLICING, THERE ARE PROFOUND CONSEQUENCES FOR THE WELL-BEING OF OUR COMMUNITIES, FOR THE RULE OF LAW AND FOR THE COUNTLESS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS WHO STRIVE TO FULFILL THEIR DUTIES WITH PROFESSIONALISM AND INTEGRITY. 

WE ARE COOPERATING TO PROACTIVELY ADDRESS ALLEGATIONS OF THE EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE BY ANY KCPD OFFICER.  THIS AGREEMENT MARKS AN EXTRAORDINARY PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN LOCAL AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT.  AS SOON AS THERE IS A NOTIFICATION OF SUCH AN ALLEGATION, WHETHER THAT COMES FROM A CITIZEN’S COMPLAINT OR FROM WITHIN ONE OF OUR DEPARTMENT’S OWN REVIEW PROCESS, THE MATTER WILL BE IMMEDIATELY REFERRED TO THE FBI TO MAKE AN UNBIASED ASSESSMENT.  THIS AGREEMENT CREATES AN INDEPENDENT AND IMPARTIAL REVIEW PROCESS TO ASSESS ALLEGATIONS OF EXCESSIVE FORCE BY KCPD OFFICERS.   IT IS OUR INTENTION THAT THIS PROCESS WILL GO A LONG WAY IN MAINTAINING AND STRENTHENING COMMUNITY TRUST.

IN SOME CASES, THE FBI MAY DETERMINE THAT A FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS INVESTIGATION IS WARRANTED AND REFER THE MATTER TO MY OFFICE.   IN OTHER CASES, THE FBI MAY DETERMINE THAT A STATE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION IS WARRANTED AND REFER THE MATTER TO THE JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE,  OR THE FBI MAY DETERMINE THAT POLICE OFFICERS ACTED LAWFULLY AND APPROPRIATELY, AND NO FURTHER INVESTIGATION IS WARRANTED.

WHATEVER THE OUTCOME …

… THE PUBLIC CAN REST ASSURED THAT ANY AND ALL ALLEGATIONS OF EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE BY KCPD OFFICERS ARE BEING FAIRLY INVESTIGATED AND JUSTLY RESOLVED.  BY HAVING THIS PROCESS IN PLACE OUR SOLE MOTIVATION IS TO  PRESERVE AND BUILD THE TRUST BETWEEN LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE COMMUNITY.

ALTHOUGH THERE HAS BEEN AN EXCELLENT WORKING RELATIONSHIP AMONG OUR OFFICES, THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A FORMAL MECHANISM IN PLACE TO ENSURE COOPERATION AND CONSISTENCY IN ASSESSING, INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING (WHERE APPROPRIATE) ALLEGATIONS OF EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE BY KCPD OFFICERS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF POLICE OFFICERS ARE HONEST AND HONORABLE.  THEY PUT THEIR LIVES AT RISK ON A DAILY BASIS TO SERVE AND PROTECT THEIR FELLOW CITIZENS. AND THEY ARE OFFENDED, AS WE ALL ARE, BY THE VERY FEW OFFICERS WHO TARNISH THEIR BADGE BY MISCONDUCT.

WE SIGNED THIS AGREEMENT SEVERAL MONTHS AGO BECAUSE WE SHARE A COMMITMENT TO UPHOLDING THE RULE OF LAW AND PROTECTING THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ALL CITIZENS.  WE’RE MAKING THE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY AT THE PRODDING OF OUR FRIENDS AT THE AD HOC GROUP AGAINST CRIME. DAMON DANIEL, THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF AD HOC, AND HIS PREDECESSOR ALVIN BROOKS – WHO ARE BOTH HERE TODAY -- WERE AMONG THE COMMUNITY LEADERS WHO GATHERED LAST FRIDAY FOR A DIALOGUE WITH THE FBI AND MYSELF.  WHEN WE MENTIONED TO THE GROUP THAT WE HAD THIS MEMORANDUM IN PLACE, DAMON ASKED WHY WE HADN’T PUBLICIZED IT AND SUGGESTED WE SHOULD MAKE A MORE PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT.

THANK YOU, DAMON, YOU WERE RIGHT, OF COURSE. SO HERE WE ARE TODAY.

IT SPEAKS VOLUMES ABOUT THE INTEGRITY BOTH OF THE KANSAS CITY MO POLICE DEPARTMENT AND JACKSON COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE THAT CHIEF DARRYL FORTE AND JEAN PETERS BAKER HAVE THE COURAGE TO VOLUNTARILY EMBRACE THIS PROCESS. AND FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE ERIC JACKSON FOR SHOULDERING THE ADDITIONAL INVESTIGATIVE WORKLOAD DESPITE RESOURCE CONSTRAINTS.  EACH ONE OF THESE OFFICIALS HAS MY RESPECT AND GRATITUDE FOR STEPPING UP TO DEAL FORTHRIGHTLY WITH A PRESSING ISSUE OF PUBLIC CONCERN.

 

Updated December 10, 2015