Community Interaction Officers
Community Interaction Officers and the Narcotics Division
The brave members of law enforcement have one of the toughest jobs in the country. Every day, they leave their families, strap on body armor, and keep communities safe. Over the past few years, their jobs have been made even harder as they face budget cuts, attacks on their profession, and radical wings of our society who target them with violent attacks.
In order to better understand what police officers are up against, I enrolled in the Kansas City Citizen Police Academy. The academy meets one night a week for three hours, and participants are able to learn and experience the different divisions and functions of the police department. We are able to hear directly from rank-and-file cops about the challenging and rewarding aspects of their job. I hope to shed light on the great work that law enforcement does, and the unique challenges that they face – I know that this perspective is one that the mainstream media likes to ignore.
This week, we were able to hear from the Community Interaction Officers and the Narcotics Division.
Community Interaction Officers help facilitate communication between the police department and the residents of Kansas City. They encourage community leaders and residents to be actively involved in anti-crime efforts. A community that has good relations with the police department and a partnership in place is much likelier to have a reduction in the crime rate.
We also learned that Chief Rick Smith has been instrumental in modernizing and revolutionizing community policing. He has supported expanding the program and doubling the number of Community Interaction Officers. Now, all six geographic zones in the city have morning and evening shifts. This allows many residents who are at work during the day to meet with the police department in the evening after they come home.
Chief Smith believes that making our city safe takes the who community, and this quote showcases his philosophy on public safety:
“The police are only part of the solution. The resident engagement piece is huge, and we cannot reduce crime and improve our quality of life without it.
If we were all neighborly, looked out for each other, and reported crime, we’d have a much safer city.”
After hearing from the Community Interaction Officers, the Academy had the opportunity to learn from the Narcotics Division. Right off the bat, I had immense respect for these men and women. They are dedicated to bringing violent criminals, cartel members, and drug dealers to justice.
The drugs that these lowlifes bring into our communities ruin lives, destroy families, and kill the vulnerable. The officers in the Narcotics Division potentially expose themselves to dangerous drugs every time they arrive at a scene. Accidental exposure and overdoses are not uncommon.
One officer detailed her experience in the hospital after she was accidentally exposed to PCP while bringing a criminal to justice.
These officers also dispelled the media’s narrative that they are arresting low-level teenagers smoking marijuana. The officers could not remember a time where they arrested a suspect for just possessing a controlled substance. Drug arrests are nearly always coupled with property crimes, violent crimes, and gun crimes.
One other common misconception that was dispelled by these officers is that they enjoy targeting and arresting residents.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The men and women of the Kansas City Police Department have one goal – to clean up their city and keep its residents safe. Our cops are overworked, underpaid, overextended, and underappreciated. The more resources and support that we can provide these first responders, the safer our community will be. It’s as simple as that.
Chris Vas is the Executive Director of Liberty Alliance. Liberty Alliance is dedicated to supporting the men and women of law enforcement and is leading the investigation into Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas’ illegal defunding of the Kansas City Police Department.