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Rabbi's Week in Review - 3/15/2023

03/15/2023 12:15:30 PM


I did a ride-along with Officer Dwon Littlejohn of the KCPD last week. Officer Littlejohn is known by our Kol Ami community as the one who either provides us security when we gather together or arranges for other KCPD to provide us security. We appreciate Officer Littlejohn not only for what he does for us with a great generosity of spirit but also for all he does for our Kansas City community. 

An overarching observation from the experience (other than having the pleasure of Officer Littlejohn’s company) is how we thrust our police into situations of conflict resolution and mental illness that are beyond what we should expect, nor are these situations what our officers are really trained to do.

There were two such situations. The first was a decision by the city to enforce a no-loitering-on-city-sidewalk ordinance. More specifically, it is an action by the city to move homeless residents from a specific location. It was not clear where these homeless Kansas Citians were expected to go, and choosing any one specific group of homeless seems pretty random. While the job of moving the homeless falls on city codes enforcers, and not KCPD, KCPD is called on to show up and resolve any conflict between city codes enforcers and the homeless that get out of hand.

The other incident involved a dispute among a fast-food drive-thru customer, the fast-food worker serving the customer, the worker’s supervisor and the initial officer on the scene. This noncriminal, seemingly innocuous situation provided a classic example of a case where everyone involved managed to escalate conflict rather than de-escalate conflict. I watched with admiration while Officer Littlejohn, through reasonable discussion and good listening, did indeed de-escalate the tension. Yet I also wondered if this really should be a job for a police officer.

I have been known for quite some time to be an advocate for local control of our police department, rather than state control. I believe this position would not only be better for our KC community and particularly for the Black community but would also be better for our police. Local control would not be a panacea for all problems but would contribute much to engendering trust between police and community.

MORE2 is working hard for local control. If you wish to be a part of that effort, you can become an ambassador for local control. To do so, get on their website:

Mon, March 20 2023 27 Adar 5783