Kansas City Police Department
If you have ever walked by the police department headquarters on Locust Street, you have probably seen the statue in the front – a stout looking police officer carefully carrying a young child in his arms. You may think this statue is to memorialize one brave man, but a closer look reveals 119 names engraved in stone. What you do not see are the many other names and faces of the more than 1,400 officers and 600 civilians who make up the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD). Assuming great duties and responsibilities on behalf of the citizenry has always been an integral part of the department since its inception in 1874.

In the time between the world wars and in the midst of Kansas City’s Pendergast era, the police force fell on hard times. The department came under the governance of the city for the first time, and a period of corruption followed. By 1939, with the fall of the Pendergast political machine, the state of Missouri stepped in. Governor Lloyd Stark had the police department returned to state control under commissioners that he appointed. The switch meant a governor-appointed Board of Police Commissioners – the system that is still in use and currently debated.

The long, rich history of the Kansas City Police Department is reflected in the images before you. No matter the political squabbles of the day, though, they illustrate how KCPD officers were always an important piece of the community fabric. These photographs come from the Missouri Valley Special Collections, many from the Kansas City Police Historical Society Collection.
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