Last updated January 19, 2021 (Originally posted January 14, 2021)
At last night’s Public Safety meeting, Overland Park Police Department Chief Frank Donchez shared the ways his department is meeting the Kansas Commission on Racial Equity and Justice’s recommendations.
The department is meeting and will continue to work at nearly all of the commission’s 24 recommendations, Donchez said.
Some of those recommendations include:
- Increasing transparency around training and officers’ records,
- Ensure the police force is representative of the Overland Park community, including creating exceptions to residency requirements and providing incentives for officers who speak languages other than English,
- Utilize mental health crisis response models, including co-responders, crisis intervention training and mental health first aid training, and more.
“I’m proud to say that we pretty much do all these recommendations already,” said Police Chief Frank Donchez. “I think that’s a testament to the professionalism of the Overland Park Police Department, and the work we do.”
Work continues toward some recommendations
Chief Donchez shared that implementing the commission’s recommendations regarding encouraging promotion and retention of underrepresented groups into the department can be challenging.
The department boasts a higher proportion of Black police officers than the Overland Park community overall, but is constantly working to recruit officers and leadership from other minority groups.
“We are ahead of the curve in a lot of areas. We are trying to achieve a better police department and better policing every single day,” said Council Member Chris Newlin. Donchez agreed, welcoming minority applicants to apply for open positions.
The commission also recommended exploring alternatives to school resources officers, including counselors.
Donchez noted that, while adding counselors to schools could help students, Overland Park’s school resource officer program is critical to building relationships with students in the community.
Ultimately, the decision to continue to host school resource officers is a school district decision.
Other commission recommendations, including adopting policies that improve transparency around contract negotiations, do not apply as the Overland Park Police Department does not have a labor union.
Watch the Chief’s full report on the Kansas Commission on Racial Equality and Justice or read the Chief’s responses to the commission’s recommendations on our website.
Sharing your feedback with OPPD
The Overland Park Police Department formally investigates allegations and inquiries about its officers in order to protect the community, department, identify potential policy changes, and improve the quality of its service to Overland Park.
Anyone can file a compliment or complaint about a member of the police department, or inquire about the process for reporting. If you would like to share feedback regarding the content of the Kansas Commission on Racial Equity and Justice report, please do so using the contact information included on the Police Compliments + Complaints web page.
The department also has an Independent Citizen Advisory Board for Racial Profiling and Non-Biased Policing to advise and assist in policy development, education and community outreach and communications related to racial profiling and other non-biased policing efforts of the Overland Park Police Department.
Commission just beginning its research
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly created the Kansas Commission on Racial Equality and Justice in June of 2020 to study issues of racial equity and justice in Kansas.
The commission announced its recommendations in December of last year, which address topics including law enforcement training, accountability, data collection, and behavioral health. It will also tackle additional topics in the future, including mental health, education, housing and economic opportunity.
You can view the commission’s entire report on the governor’s website.