February 24, 2024 

Kansas City, MO Chief Stacey Graves discusses the Super Bowl parade shooting 


PERF members, 

Ten days ago, the Kansas City Chiefs celebrated their Super Bowl victory with a parade through the city, ending with a rally at Union Station. Shortly after the rally ended, there was gunfire. According to the Kansas City Star, “a woman [Lisa Lopez-Galvan] died and 24 other people were injured by gunfire after two groups of armed males arguing about ‘why they were staring at each other’ led to the mass shooting.” Earlier this week, two adults were charged with second-degree felony murder, and two juveniles have been charged with gun-related offenses. 

I spoke with Kansas City, Missouri Chief Stacey Graves about the shooting, her department’s response, and how this incident might change KCPD’s approach to policing future major events. 

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Chief Graves speaking at a press conference alongside Mayor Quinton Lucas and Fire Chief Ross Grundyson (Source: KCPD) 

Chuck Wexler: You became chief in December 2022. Had you always wanted to be the Kansas City police chief? 

Chief Stacey Graves: No, I came up in the organization, and I think I just enjoyed whatever assignment I was in at the time. I was the acting deputy chief of the patrol bureau when the chief position came open, and I felt an urge to be chief. I saw some positive changes that could be made in our department, and with our relationship with the community and our city leaders. And I felt like I could make a difference and work for the next generation of KCPD. 

I love this organization. I grew up in Kansas City. This is my hometown. And I want nothing but the best for our members and for our city to be safer. 

Wexler: Serving as deputy chief in charge of patrol must have prepared you well for your role as chief. 

Chief Graves: That deputy chief role oversees much of the organization and all its uniformed officers. So, it’s all the visible resources that are out there making thousands of contacts with people every day. Supervising, leading, and commanding those men and women is a very important position. 

Another assignment that really prepared me for this position was my two tours in the media unit, as a sergeant and as a captain. I was used to answering to public scrutiny and explaining difficult situations. Additionally, I was the human resources division commander through COVID and the civil unrest. We had an officer who was critically injured in the line of duty. 

All those different experiences prepare you for the position of chief of police. And when I was in these assignments, I poured myself into the assignment. I wasn’t looking for the next step up or being ambitious in any way. I was just trying to do the best job I could, wherever God put me, and figured He had a plan for me. 

Wexler: Moving to the parade, the Chiefs have been in the Super Bowl four of the last five years and won three of those games, so I’m sure you had some experience planning for an event like this. Can you tell us what went into your planning? 

Chief Graves: I’d actually take it all the way back to 2015, when the Royals won the World Series. We hadn’t seen one of our professional teams win a championship for decades. That was the first event like this during my tenure, and I remember responding to that and learning from it. 

You learn from each one of these events. In 2020, a car drove through a barricade because the driver was under the influence. We learned from that and further hardened the roadways and other areas. 

I saw one estimate that we had over 900,000 people in and around our city, particularly from 6th Street to 23rd Street. This year we had up to 850 officers out on the route. We had 606 from KCPD and over 250 from 34 different agencies who we called into Kansas City to help provide a secure perimeter and a safe parade experience. 

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Chief Graves addressing officers at roll call the morning of the parade (Source: KCPD) 

Wexler: Is it challenging to work with outside agencies? And are some coming from across the state border in Kansas? 

Chief Graves: We have agencies from both Missouri and Kansas come in because we’re so close to the state line. They sign an MOU to come into our city to assist. We’re all on the same radio and we strategically place officers from outside agencies alongside KCPD members. 

Wexler: Tell me about your experience that day. 

Chief Graves: The parade started at 11:00, and it went from 6th Street to 23rd Street. Players were getting off buses and greeting fans. Then it all came to an end at Union Station, where there was a big stage. The mayor and governor were there, as well as [Chiefs Chairman and CEO] Clark Hunt and all the Chiefs.  

I was standing right in front of Union Station, just to the west of the stage, when I heard shots fired. I was with my operations sergeant, and we ran over to assist with the scene. We broke it up into quadrants and assigned a commander to each quadrant to deal with the various situations.  

The commander on the west side of Crown Center [a shopping center] was in charge of holding that scene and getting people to safety. In situations like these, sometimes calls continue to come in saying there still might be a threat. So, we obviously wanted to make sure there was no longer a threat inside Union Station, where we had a lot of people sheltering in place. I needed a commander in there to ensure that not only was Union Station safe, but people inside were kept appraised and calm.  

Then, on the east side of Union Station, we had all the buses that were transporting Chiefs players and other VIPs back to their starting place. So we got calls over there and had officers clear those buses. We made sure we evacuated some people out of Union Station on buses when the scene was safe. 

Wexler: Did you think it might be terrorism? 

Chief Graves: I saw a couple people go down, but it didn’t look like it was a mass casualty incident at that point. We had people in custody pretty quickly and it was more than one individual, so that led me to believe it wasn’t necessarily terrorism. And we had additional assets and resources in place, so if it had been terrorism, we would’ve had an appropriate response. 

This gun violence is part of a culture of violence that police chiefs, particularly those in major cities, are dealing with every day. And it’s unfortunate that we seem to be settling conflicts with gun violence. 

Wexler: Tell me about the investigation. 

Chief Graves: While this was not the usual crime scene, it is still a homicide investigation. And it’s wonderful to witness investigators, officers, and everyone else come together and put their foot on the gas to investigate. Once people know the mission, we’re all together and moving forward. 

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 Chief Graves speaking at a press conference the day after the parade (Source: KCPD) 

Wexler: Tell me what this day means to Kansas City. 

Chief Graves: This is a day when everyone in Kansas City has something in common. This is a day when we should all be able to come together and share a win. We can all be happy for one thing. And, out of a million people, a couple people got into an argument and it marred this day of celebration. 

But this conflict played out with gun violence, and our community and our children were caught up in this. This affects not only the family of Lisa Lopez-Galvan and the families of those who were struck by gunfire, but also those who were fleeing. The injuries, both physical and emotional, and the loss of life are going to affect us as we move forward. 

Wexler: Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Chief Graves: It’s important to reach out and be available to those who were affected by what happened. I reached out to Lisa Lopez-Galvan’s family, who I already knew. I didn’t know her, but I know her family because they are pillars of our Hispanic community. It was important for me as the chief of police to reach out to them personally. I think it’s important to acknowledge what happened and check in on people. 

And as chief, you need to check on your people. We have deployed our wellness unit, which I’m thankful we have available. And we have scheduled large debriefs, which we also did after our civil unrest in the city. 

It’s important for the leader to be present and encouraging. That might mean walking into the squad room with the detectives and analysts to thank them for what they’re doing.  

Kansas City showed up that day in a great way. Kansas City fans intervened and tackled a suspect, the [Kansas City] Sports Commission got people on buses to remove them from the scene, and law enforcement took heroic actions and have been relentlessly investigating. That’s Kansas City. 

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 Chiefs fans from San Antonio pose with Kansas City police officers (Source:KCPD

Thanks to Chief Graves for taking the time to share that information with our members, and thanks to all the Kansas City officers who protected their community during this shooting.