AP

Talk about police bias scrutinized in Kansas governor’s race

Oct 11, 2022, 12:59 PM | Updated: 3:39 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas’ Republican attorney general told a racial justice commission two years ago that racial bias “obviously” exists in law enforcement, but he said Tuesday that he wasn’t saying systemic racism exists and stood by campaign attacks on the state’s Democratic governor for using that phrase.

Attorney General Derek Schmidt and fellow Republicans are portraying Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly as anti-police as Schmidt tries to unseat Kelly in the Nov. 8 election. George Floyd’s death in 2020 led Kelly to form a Commission on Racial Justice and Equity to examine policing, declaring as she did, “Systemic racism within law enforcement must end.”

Schmidt argues that saying systemic racism exists is calling law enforcement officers racist. His own comments that racial bias “obviously” exists in policing came during a Zoom meeting of the governor’s commission in October 2020. He told reporters Tuesday that when “a rare bad apple” commits misconduct, “There are mechanisms in place to deal with those individual problems.”

“They are two different things,” Schmidt said during an impromptu news conference following an event at the Kansas Bureau of Investigation’s forensics center in Topeka. “I certainly don’t argue that there is systemic racism in law enforcement, and I think the governor’s decision to appoint an entire separate commission to focus on that problem was ill-advised.”

Both parties expect the Kansas governor’s race to be close, and Schmidt has joined other Republican candidates across the U.S. in pivoting to crime as a big issue as he tries to win back independent and moderate Republican voters who backed Kelly in 2018. Part of his strategy is painting Kelly as antagonistic toward the police.

Kelly’s campaign responded Tuesday with the same statement it issued last week, saying Schmidt is engaged in “false smears” and that Kelly has delivered “historic investments” in law enforcement. Since Kelly took office in January 2019, spending on the prison system and Kansas Highway Patrol has grown by nearly 33%, though funding for the KBI under Schmidt’s control has remained flat.

Kelly formed her racial justice commission in June 2020 after the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. In a column she wrote afterward, Kelly said she wanted the panel to recommend “meaningful and lasting change.”

“Racial inequality and injustice have been part of our nation’s history from the beginning,” Kelly wrote. “Communities of color do not have the luxury of time for leaders to ignore these issues any longer.”

The commission’s numerous recommendations in 2020 and 2021 included ensuring robust anti-bias training, prohibiting fired officers from working again in law enforcement, and revising local policies on the use of force. Despite Kelly’s call for lasting change, her administration did not push the Republican-controlled Legislature to enact them.

Schmidt said that although if he were governor, he would have condemned Floyd’s death and called on Minnesota to deal with officers’ conduct, he also would have condemned violence during protests over Floyd’s death and suggested that some leaders then were “elevating this issue in an inflammatory manner.”

During his Zoom presentation to Kelly’s racial justice commission in October 2020, Schmidt briefed members on the role of the attorney general’s office and the state Commission on Peace Officers’ Standards and Training in reviewing allegations of racial bias against officers. CPOST certifies and disciplines law enforcement officers.

During the meeting, commission member Mark McCormick asked Schmidt, “To what degree do you think racial bias exists in our system here in the state?”

Schmidt replied: “You know, Mark, I mean, obviously, it does exist. It exists in human relations, and so it therefore exists in the subset of human relations that include law enforcement interactions with people.”

Schmidt added that he believes that the CPOST and individual law enforcement agencies take complaints of racial bias “quite seriously” and that “it’s not an also-ran consideration.”

He told reporters Tuesday that law enforcement officers “overwhelmingly are honorable” and that it’s a disservice to them for the governor to suggest that policing is “systemically racist.”

____

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

2 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

2 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

6 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

7 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

14 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Talk about police bias scrutinized in Kansas governor’s race