James, Forte must re-examine mayor's security
The Kansas City Star
Kansas City’s mayor and police chief need to re-examine security for Sly James in wake of Tuesday’s startling incident at the Gem Theater. (KC Star video is here.)
James took the understandable approach just minutes after a man walked on stage, interrupted his State of the City speech and was physically pulled away from the podium by two of James’ bodyguards.
“I’m not going to question my security,” he told reporters.
James pointed out that “we don’t live that way” in saying he can’t be 100 percent protected all the time. And he pointed out that his bodyguards had protected him in other incidents, most notably shoving him to the ground in 2011 when gunshots were heard nearby on the Country Club Plaza.
But Police Chief Darryl Forte had said just minutes earlier of security for the mayor: “We’ll look at it.”
“This is a serious incident,” added Forte, who was in the back of the theater during the speech but rushed to the stage during the incident.
Yes, it was a serious incident, one that will suck the wind out of the sails of what the mayor accurately reported Tuesday: The city’s making lots of progress on a number of fronts.
The man who climbed on stage did not harm the mayor or make a move to do so. He was, however, physically and verbally abusive after being tackled and taken away from the podium.
James is absolutely correct in saying he can’t be protected all the time - just like Kansas Citians can’t be, either.
But when the mayor is giving a major policy speech before Kansas City’s movers and shakers, when he is trying to pump up the city’s image, it’s up to the Kansas City Police Department as well as James’ security detail to be on extra alert.
That’s especially true when this major event is being held outside of City Hall, where there’s more built-in security, such as railings and locked doors in the mayor’s office and in the City Council’s chamber.
Bottom line: The mayor’s security detail reacted quickly and efficiently today.
But could the pre-speech security have been better? Could the police or his bodyguards have been in place to have prevented the man from walking on stage? Should more police or his bodyguards be closer to the mayor when he’s making a major speech like this in an relatively intimate space?
Forte is right: Those and other questions need to be looked at in determining how to avoid other “serious incidents” in the future.