Local needs, local interests, local issues—state control. This has long been the framework for the Kansas City Police Department. Yet heightened civil unrest, escalating crime rates and the national police reform movement have generated increased interest in returning control of the police department to the Kansas City community, allowing local leaders to govern police policies, procedures, and budgets.
Join American Public Square at Jewell on April 6 for this special “KC at the Square” event as we discuss the merits of state versus local control, examine perspectives from different areas of our community, and make sense of the recent tensions over Kansas City’s police budget.
The event will be moderated by: Mary Sanchez – Senior reporter, Kansas City PBS | Flatland
Distinguished panelists include:
Gwendolyn Grant provides leadership and direction for advancing all Urban League programs and its mission.
Additionally, Gwen is engaged in numerous civic and community organizations, including serving as Chair of the Missouri Coordinating Board for Higher Education and Workforce Development, the Urban Council (a collective of legacy civil rights organizations including the SCLC-GKC, NAACP-KC, National Black United Front-KC, Urban Summit and Urban League of Greater Kansas City), founder and convener of the COVID-19 Collective Impact Collaborative, Founder and Convener of the Police Accountability Task Force, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce Tax Incentive Reform Task Force, Park University Advisory Council, President – Kansas City Public Schools Buildings Corporation Board, KCPS Superintendent’s Business/Economic Development Advisory Council, Citizens to Abolish Poverty Education Committee, Black/Brown Coalition, National Urban League’s Association of Executives, and more. Additionally, Ms. Grant is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Urban League’s State of Black Kansas City – bi-annual report on African American progress in economics, education, health, social justice, and civic engagement.
The first female CEO in the affiliate’s 101-year history, Gwendolyn is a strong and passionate advocate for social justice and economic empowerment for African Americans and women. She is the recipient of numerous honors including the National Urban League’s Whitney M. Young Leadership Award for Advancing Racial Equity, William Jewell College Yates Medallion for Distinguished Service, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Community Service Award, 435 Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful, and the National Urban League Association of Executives Academy of Fellows designation.
Dave Helling has served as a columnist for the Kansas City Star Editorial board, as well as a political and multi-media reporter. He has also served as a Teaching Fellow at the Dole Institute of Politics, University of Kansas.
Prior to his tenure at the Kansas City Star, Helling served as an anchor and reporting at a number of regional news stations, including KCTV-5 and WDAF-TV in Kansas City. He has received numerous awards, including the ACLU Freedom of the Press Award; the 2018 American Society of Newspaper Editors’ Burl Osborne award winner for editorial leadership; and was a part of a 2018 Pulitzer Prize finalist team.
Helling was born in Texas and raised in Overland Park, Kansas. He is a 1973 graduate of Shawnee Mission West HS, and a 1977 graduate of Creighton University, where he served as student body president his senior year.
Brad Lemon began serving as President of the Fraternal Order of Police in June, 2014; he joined in 1992 when he graduated the police academy as a Kansas City Missouri Police Officer. He joined the Executive Board in 2009 and has served as the 2nd Vice President, Treasurer, and the Executive Vice President. President Lemon has chaired the Labor Services Committee since 2009.
During his tenure on the Executive Board, Lodge 99 received recognition for both the sworn members, below the rank of Captain, and most of the department’s non-sworn members. In 2010, the first collective bargaining contract in the department’s history was completed which provided protections for every member in the sworn bargaining unit.
In 2013, President Lemon and the Executive Board finalized negotiations regarding a law suit settlement against the Board of Police Commissioners and Kansas City over a health care issue. The subsequent settlement brought pay raises and pension contribution increases that will guarantee full funding of the pension fund. In that same year, the work by the Executive Board successfully lobbied the state’s legislative bodies and returned its members their political rights for the first time in 74 years.
President Lemon has served on the city’s Health Care Committee, Pension Committee and Blue Ribbon Commission on the Local Control of the Police Department. He has attended numerous State and National FOP conferences, training seminars and labor summits. President Lemon has served in Metro, Center, East, and Shoal Creek Patrol Divisions, along with the Tactical Response Team. He has also served in several investigative elements, including Narcotics, Property Crimes and Violent Crimes. He was promoted to Sergeant after making the 1997 Sergeant’s list.
Quinton Lucas, “Mayor Q,” was sworn in as the 55th mayor of Kansas City on August 1, 2019.
As mayor, Quinton has prioritized making Kansas City’s neighborhoods safer, creating more accessible and affordable housing and public transportation, fostering a healthier community and improving basic services. Quinton created and chairs the City’s Special Committee on Housing Policy.
Born and raised in Kansas City, Quinton has spent most of his life in the city’s urban core. As a child, he moved often and experienced homelessness, sometimes staying with family or friends, or residing in a motel. Despite these challenges, Quinton remained focused on his schoolwork, earning academic scholarships to high school, college and Cornell Law School before returning home to Kansas City.
Since 2012, Quinton has been a member of the University of Kansas Law School faculty, where he served as one of the youngest tenure-track law professors in the country. He is active in the Kansas City community and volunteers extensively in area schools and organizations, including providing mentorship in local prisons.
Mayor Quinton Lucas lives in the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District, which he previously represented on the City Council.
Karl Zobrist is a member of Dentons’ Energy practice, specializing in the energy and telecommunications industries. He represents electricity, natural gas and telecommunications companies, as well as industrial and investment companies interested in energy and public utility matters in a wide variety of proceedings before regulatory bodies. He also represents clients in complex commercial litigation in state and federal court.
Karl concluded his tenure as a member of the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners in 2010, when he became the longest-serving commissioner in Missouri history. He was appointed by Gov. Mel Carnahan in 2000, reappointed by Gov. Bob Holden in 2004, and served two terms as Police Board President. He received the Public Service Award, Office of Community Complaints from the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners in 2011. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission, where he
serves as Vice Chair and General Counsel.
Karl has also served as Chairman of the Missouri Public Service Commission (1996–1997) and chaired the Missouri Energy Policy Task Force (2001–2002). He served as interim president of Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. (MISO) when it was founded in 1998. MISO was the first regional transmission organization certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2001. Karl now serves as counsel to the MISO Board of Directors.
Before entering private practice, Karl was on active duty with the United States Navy, serving in the Office of the Judge Advocate General, where he represented clients in court-martial proceedings in New England, and before the military appellate courts in Washington, DC.
Mary Sanchez, senior reporter for Kansas City PBS | Flatland, is a nationally syndicated columnist with Tribune Content Agency. She has also been a metro columnist for The Kansas City Star and member of the Star’s editorial board, in addition to her years spent reporting on race, class, criminal justice and educational issues. Sanchez is a native of Kansas City.
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