Nathan Garrett, steadfast Rick Smith supporter, resigns from Kansas City police board

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Nathan Garrett has resigned from the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, a spokeswoman for Gov. Mike Parson confirmed Monday.

Garrett, a former federal prosecutor who was appointed to the board by former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in 2017, said his resignation was effective at 5 p.m. Friday after he and his family moved out of Kansas City.

“A change in residency necessitates this transition, but it has been my honor to serve this City and Department as a commissioner for the last four years,” Garrett said in his resignation letter to Gov. Mike Parson.

“We have encountered many significant challenges over those years, but have always strived to confront the challenges with integrity, purpose and an unwavering desire to do the right thing, even if unpopular,” Garrett wrote.

Garrett’s term on the police board had expired in March, but he continued to serve until last week. The police board is scheduled to hold its monthly meeting Tuesday. Parson’s office has not said whether a replacement has been named.

“I thank Nathan Garrett for his service,” Mayor Quinton Lucas said about the resignation.

Lora McDonald, executive director of the Metro Organization for Racial and Economic Equity (MORE2), an interfaith social justice organization, said the group is pleased that Garrett is stepping down.

“He (Garrett) continually referred to the BOPC as “apolitical,” while playing politics,” McDonald said. “He isn’t apolitical and when the going got tough, he decided to get going.

“We need to control this Police Department and MORE2 will continue to aim for that. In the meantime, we hope this seat remains vacant or gets filled by a member of the community who truly cares about racial equity,” she said.

When Garrett joined the police board, he replaced Alvin Brooks, who resigned to join the Hickman Mills school board.

Most recently, Garrett and Commissioner Cathy Dean were appointed to a member committee that examined whether to seek legal action against Mayor Quinton Lucas and the City Council for passing an ordinance that gives the city authority over a $42.3 million portion of the police department’s budget.

Garrett had sharply criticized the measure and was instrumental in the board’s decision to sue the city.

At the time, Garrett told The Star, “Not sure all who voted understood the practical effect (or timing), but the fuse was lit once passed and we have to evaluate and implement whatever action we deem most appropriate in very short order lest we cannot fund our most crime critical divisions,” he said.

Garrett was vocal about his support for law enforcement during and after protests last summer following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

He also called himself a “steadfast” supporter of Police Chief Rick Smith, whose removal has been repeatedly sought by civil rights groups, faith leaders, elected officials and a neighborhood association. Garrett had cast the deciding vote to hire Smith over Norman, Oklahoma Police Chief Keith Humphrey in 2017.

Of his time on the board, Garrett told The Star:

“Accomplishments best described by others, but hope to have hit the balance between support and accountability. Made every decision based on what I truly believed best then and there, without regard for how it might make me look or what others might say about it. Sincerity of action.”

Ed Ford, chairman of the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that he hopes Parson appoints a Northland resident to replace Garrett.

While residents of the Northland have served as police commissioners in the past -- John Dillingham, as one example -- Ford said currently there are none.

“We are 40 percent of the Kansas City population,” Ford said. “There are no Northlanders on the Board of Police Commissioners.

The executive committee of the Northland Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Monday that it came out against the two city council ordinances that propose to reallocate a portion of the Kansas City Police Department budget.

It criticized the plan for getting passed before there was much public debate or with little disclosure to council members who represent the Northland. They also said there was not enough specificity for how funds would be reallocated or make Kansas City’s violent crime problem better.

Garrett operates a private law firm with former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves.

Prior to his appointment to the police board, Garrett had an extensive career in law enforcement. He had worked as a police officer, a prosecutor in Howell County and later a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper.

He later joined the FBI and worked at the agency’s Dallas office. While there, Garrett became a special assistant United States attorney. His responsibilities included investigating and prosecuting national security and counterintelligence cases.

Garrett left the FBI after five years and became a full-time assistant U.S. attorney assigned to the Dallas office. He transferred to the Kansas City office, where he worked until 2008, serving as head of the office’s national security unit.

In his resignation letter to Parson, Garrett said the police department “finds itself at perhaps its most critical moment, and I ask for what I know you will give: focus and considered thought to my replacement.

May it be one willing to act — informed and thoughtfully — without fear or favor and without regard for political winds or public criticism.”

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