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Controversy arises over KCPD's Black Town Hall meeting

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

An event aimed to help the Kansas City Police Department may be doing the exact opposite.

The KCPD Black Town Hall meeting will be at the St. Mark Family Daycare Center, located at 2008 E. 12th Street from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The diversity commander for the department hopes they will one day soon have a town hall meeting for other minorities, including women, Latino and gay and lesbian police officers.

Some believe it's a great idea while others say nothing good can come from excluding any group of people based on race.

"The police department is a microcosm of America. There's racial tension in America, why wouldn't there be racial tension in the police department or fire department," said Alvin Brooks, the KCPD board president.

With racial tension inside the Kansas City Police Department at what some would call an all-time high, it doesn't appear an upcoming meeting is helping matters. An e-mail was sent out to African American officers encouraging them to attend a Black Town Hall meeting.

"It is what it is. The chief set up an office of diversity, LGBT and those persons are represented. I think what this is is our department has never gone beyond 150 sustained, 150 African American officers. We have a woman group we support, a Latino group we support, so it is what it is," Brooks said.

Brooks said the meeting will hopefully offer some ideas on recruiting and retaining African American officers. He believes it's in everyone's best interest to have a police department that is diverse as the city it represents and that means adding more African American officers to the force.

But not everyone believes the town hall meeting is the way to do it. Some KCPD supervisors feel it's a slap in the face to the hardworking white officers on the force.

In a statement from the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge, a spokesman said:

"The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 is aware of the KCPD Black Town Hall meeting scheduled for this Saturday. The FOP respects all officers' rights to meet and discuss issues affecting their employment. The FOP is an organization that strives for inclusion, and it is legally required to represent the interests of all police officers and sergeants of the KCPD regardless of their race, gender, religion or political affiliation. The FOP would be violating its legal responsibilities to its members if it placed the interests of any one group above the interests of all police officers and sergeants. While the FOP hopes that this planned Town Hall meeting has positive results, the FOP is concerned that this type of exclusive meeting may prove to be more divisive than progressive. The FOP will continue to represent all police officers and sergeants and will work to make the KCPD a better place to work for all employees."

In an update released by the police department Friday, now all KCPD employees are invited to attend the Black Town Hall meeting.

The town hall meeting is only open to the department, not the public.

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