Criminal Justice Reforms

What follows is a statement from Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker:

A group of prosecutors and staff from my office joined the lawful protests on Sunday afternoon at Mill Creek Park near the Plaza as a way to honor the life of George Floyd and to show our support for needed change in America’s criminal justice system. This is change that I and dozens of other of the nation’s top prosecutors first sought after the Ferguson protests in 2014.

In 2017, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, an organization for many of the nation’s urban prosecutors, promoted justice reform ideas, many focused on improving transparency and accountability. Much of that proposed template built on or followed the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. But unfortunately those reforms largely were not enacted.

The time for more study has passed. We already have a path forward. We only need to move forward. We must begin to methodically enact and build on these reforms.

Here are some key first steps:

  • Prosecutors must limit the use of grand juries in officer-involved cases because by law they are shrouded in secrecy.
  • Procedural justice and diversity training must be required of prosecutors and others in the criminal justice system.
  • Outside, independent, neutral investigations must be established for all police officer-involved incidents. Police cannot investigate their own.
  • Citizens should give input into union contract provisions that offer additional advantages to officers being investigated.
  • Community policing should be established and embraced to heal and restore community trust.
  • Recruit minority officers and officers who live in the community.

We will announce other new reforms efforts in our office in coming days. We are happy to discuss other reform efforts undertaken already by our office.

Here is a statement issued today by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys on the killing of George Floyd.

Jackson County Prosecutor denounces city charging non-violent protesters

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued this statement today:

My office denounces charges being filed against non-violent protesters. Based on calls to my office and after speaking to protest organizer Henry Service, it is clear many citizens are confused and believe my office has filed charges against dozens of protesters who were arrested for minor offenses like walking in the street or stepping off a curb.

Those charges against protesters were filed by the City Prosecutor’s office, an office that reports to the Mayor and the City Council. I suggest making your voices heard about those arrests to city officials or the city prosecutor’s office. You can contact the prosecutor at this number: Phone: (816) 513-6750.

My office has filed four cases related to the protests. Those were burglary/theft cases against individuals who were involved in looting of Plaza stores last weekend. These are the only cases related to the protest that my office has filed. None of the individuals charged in those four cases related to Kansas City protests remain in custody. A Kansas City man was charged with a misdemeanor Terroristic Threatening charge after he encouraged in social media posts the looting of the Walmart store in Raytown, attracting individuals to the store for the event and causing a major police response to the store, as well as its evacuation. He also has been released from custody.

In addition, we announced we are reviewing alleged police misconduct. We have already asked for an investigation of one incident in which protesters were pepper sprayed by police. We launched a web page at our website to collect any other evidence, including videos, of excessive force by police. Individuals can make these submissions anonymously, if they wish. We also will review any case submitted by police to us regarding any individual throwing bricks, rocks, bottles or other dangerous objects.

Persons seeking help in getting the release of detained protesters being held on municipal charges should also consult the Kansas City Community Bail Fund. Here is their website: