KANSAS CITY, MO – It’s been a long time coming, 74 years to be exact, but members of the Kansas City Police Department can voice their political views once again.
Officers have been banned from that First Amendment right since the 1930s.
At that time, Kansas City Mayor Tom Pendergast ruled the city as a corrupt political boss, doling out jobs in the department along party lines, and using the police to intimidate voters.
The state stepped in and took over the department, and in the process, stripped department employees of the right to openly express their political views.
Now, after nearly a decade-long effort, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has restored the workers their political voice, signing Senate Bill 216 into law.
“We can enjoy the basic rights that every other American citizen can enjoy,” said Brad Dumit, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police.
According to the law, as long as they’re off duty and out of uniform, Kansas City Police Department employees can openly support, or oppose, political candidates.
“We can put up a yard sign or put a bumper sticker on the car without ramifications,” Dumit said. “In the past, we could have been fired.”
The law also allows employees to donate to political campaigns, serve on political committees, and advocate for candidates.
For his part, Dumit says he’s pleased they won the fight, but believes it’s a right his members should have already had.