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Local government leaders discuss policing at annual conference

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

LAWRENCE — The KU Public Management Center held the 66th annual Kansas City / County Management (KCCM) Conference at the Lawrence campus on April 16-17. This year’s conference featured a major discussion on policing and how local government leaders can effectively deal with complex issues like race and situations like Ferguson, Missouri.

“The KCCM Conference included current and poignant government management topics," said Quinn Bennion, city administrator for Prairie Village. "I was particularly impressed with the panel discussion regarding the future of policing in the wake of the Ferguson tensions. The quality and caliber of presenters was at the level of a national conference.”

The majority of the KCCM Conference attendees serve as chief administrative officers or department heads in city and county governments in Kansas. 

This year’s conference was themed Conversations for Better Communities and featured a keynote address by Charles Epp, a professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration. During his presentation, Epp discussed the implications of his recent book, co-authored with fellow KU professors Steven Maynard-Moody and Don Haider-Markel, "Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship." (Read a recent KU news story about the book and its authors.)

Epp’s session was a draw for conference attendees, many of whom oversee their local police departments in their roles as city managers. After the presentation, a panel consisting of city managers and a police major discussed how the landscape of policing has changed with events like those surrounding Rodney King, Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Panelist Norton Bonaparte, who serves as city manager of Sanford, Florida, where the Trayvon Martin shooting occurred in 2012, outlined what the city did and what he learned in the aftermath of that event. Bonaparte offered this advice to cities who find themselves at the epicenter of protests: “It’s about flexibility of operations. Be welcoming and accommodating.”

Other sessions during the two-day KCCM Conference included:

  • A panel that highlighted what jurisdictions are doing to promote personal, community and organizational wellness;
  • Panelists who provided tips on surviving the early years as public administrators; and
  • A presentation and panel on changing conversations that outlined how the language is changing as communities engage with new challenges and new opportunities.

“We hear year after year that this conference provides valuable connections for government managers; they come here to network and learn from each other as much as they come for the content that we provide, and we work to create an agenda which supports that,” said Laura Howard, director of the Public Management Center.

This benefit of connecting with others working in public service is echoed by conference attendees at another annual PMC conference, the KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration (IWPA) Conference. The 2015 IWPA Conference will take place June 25 at the KU Edwards Campus in Overland Park. To register and learn more about the event, visit http://j.mp/IWPA2015.


Ruth DeWitt, Communications Manager
KU School of Public Affairs and Administration
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