KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ Kansas City’s police chief has taken some criticism from area police union leaders for his recent comments about shootings of Black men by officers.
“There is an issue with too many African-American men being killed by police officers,” Chief Darryl Forte told The Kansas City Star on Wednesday (http://j.mp/2awJiUp). “And part of it, in my opinion, is unreasonable fear.” Forte also said poor training was a factor.
Two union leaders took issue with the comments, which came in an interview in which Forte also discussed his experiences as a black police chief in America and talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and institutional racism.
Kansas City, Kansas, police union leader Scott Kirkpatrick, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 4, responded in an open letter posted online Wednesday.
Kirkpatrick pointed to the recent deaths in the line of duty of Kansas City, Kansas, police Det. Brad Lancaster, who was shot and killed in May, and police Capt. Robert Melton, who was shot and killed last month.
“To suggest that an officer’s fear at any time is per se unreasonable without knowing the facts represents a monumental misunderstanding of the job we are doing out of the streets in the current climate,” Kirkpatrick wrote. “The fear is real. People are out to harm us. And now your comments will only make things worse.”
Also on Wednesday, Kansas City police union leader Brad Lemon, who is president of FOP Lodge (hash)99, issued a statement extending his criticism to other statements Forte has made in public meetings about police use of force.
Forte stood by his comments as he responded to the criticism.
He wrote in a blog post that the remarks in question could best be understood in the context of the whole interview, which included a wide-ranging discussion of policing issues.
“I do respect others’ opinions, and I apologize if anyone was offended by my comments about police-involved shootings of black males,” Forte said. “I said some of those incidents were the result of unreasonable fear and poor training on behalf of the police. I was in no way referencing any particular incident or any particular department.”
Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com