Racial equity and justice committee seeing progress in Kansas, year after Floyd death

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – George Floyd died one year ago Tuesday. The death prompted protests against police brutality. It also sparked conversations around the country, including in Kansas.

A group created by Governor Laura Kelly has been meeting for months to discuss policing and law enforcement. Topeka Public Schools Superintendent Tiffany Anderson co-chairs the racial equity and justice commission.

“We really looked at ways that we could address policing within local communities, everything from changing how training is done to strengthening what we’re doing with SROs, to also legislation that also includes training, in addition to how can ensure our police force is the best that it can possibly be in any area in Kansas,” Anderson said.

For the last year, members of the commission met with people from communities across the state. The commission released more than 60 recommendations to the governor for local and state leaders to put in place.

They include items like increasing transparency, providing mental health first aid training to police, expanding statewide oversight of officers, preventing fired officers from being hired at a different agency, and increasing officer pay.

“The movement that we’ve seen, I am certainly optimistic about,” Anderson said about what has happened so far.

Lawmakers passed three bills the group supported. They were about law enforcement addressing missing or murdered Native Americans, driver’s license suspensions and expanding options for a diversion.

But many areas have yet to be addressed by local or state leaders. So members of the commission are speaking out in communities to explain why they want to see change.

“We certainly will closely monitor this work going forward and we expect change and transformation or we wouldn’t be on this commission,” Anderson said.

The group is currently developing its second set of recommendations, focusing on economics, education and healthcare. Those will come out in December.

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