the appointment of Chief Speers, Kansas City
has been served by forty-six men as head of the department. A search into history of
the background of each of these men soon reveals
that each had an outstanding gift of leadership
and responsibility that suited them for the
important office they filled.
front of the Police Headquarters Building,
1125 Locust, stands a statue of a police officer cuddling a small child in his arms. The monument
in itself relates a story, but a closer look
reveals one hundred and nineteen names engraved
in the stone - men who gave their lives in
upholding the oath they took at the time they
became police officers. These men gave everything
with the hope that their sacrifice would make
the city a better place to live. If space
permitted, each name would make a story well
has always been most important to the efficiency
of any police department. With this knowledge,
in approximately 1902, the Gamewell Communication
System was adopted. This was an electric police
alarm box operated on telegraphic principles
by which a patrol officer could send prearranged
messages to headquarters by operating certain
switches. This method was very primitive when
measured by today's standards, but was a revolutionary
advancement when it was first put into use.
1931, use of the police radio was initiated. The
first of these was an AM radio that could
be used for communication from a police dispatcher
at the Headquarters Building to the police
cruiser in the field. Again, these were an
improvement over anything up to that time,
but suffered the drawback of the officer being
unable to voice a reply to the dispatcher.
big advancement in communication by the Kansas
City Police Department was in September, 1935,
when two-way radios were installed in the
first twelve patrol cars. The mobile broadcasting
stations had a power of 7.5 watts. The sets
were installed under the rear seats of the
cars and were powered by special generators
in no way dependent on the regular battery.
Each car was equipped with an antenna about
"ten feet high resembling a fishing pole."
Officers were given instructions in law governing
the use of radios and issued a third-class
each officer has a radio or walkie-talkie
near him at all times when he is in the field.
This is operated through the modern FM equipment.
In addition to the radio equipment, the officer
has the use of a computer, stored with information
at his fingertips at all times. Through this
computer, the officer is in communication
with every major law enforcement agency in
the United States.
important tool needed for fast, efficient
police work is proper fast transportation.
In the early history of the department, the
city was divided into beats. These beats were
covered by a patrolman walking and observing.
In the late 1800s, Chief Speers hired James
McManamin to ride a big bay horse about the
city, patrolling and serving papers. Young
McManamin proved so satisfactory that other
mounted patrolmen were put on the city's streets.
The mounted patrol grew until its number reached
forty-five. This method of patrolling was
phased out on Labor Day, 1929, when it was
found that horses were too expensive compared
to more modern methods of transportation.
The state-appointed board of commissioners
was dismantled in 1932 when the police department
was brought under home rule during the height of political boss Tom Pendergast's power. State control was again
established in 1939 in an effort to wrest
control of the police department away from
the corrupt Pendergast political machine by
Governor Lloyd Stark, who appointed another
board of police commissioners who in turn hired FBI agent and attorney Lear Reed as the new police chief. The state-appointed
board of commissioners (BOPC) continues to
preside over the KCPD to this day. The Kansas
City, Missouri Police Department and St Louis
Police Department shared the unique status
as being the only two departments in Missouri administered by a governor appointed
board of police commissioners but a style of administration used in several other cities in other states. Officers of these respective departments were designated 'Officers of the State of Missouri' with jurisdiction in their cities. Kansas City Police Commissioners were appointed from locally generated lists of candidates of prominent Kansas City residents and of the current mayor of the city. The St Louis Department has since returned to home rule.