"I've gotten offers to go to different sections," Wagoner says, "but I have always declined. I have a certain personal preference because it's my old neighborhood."
When something bad happens in Brookside or Waldo, Wagoner answers the call -- just as he did one afternoon in November when he was cruising through the intersection of 63rd Street and Brookside Boulevard.
"I had just driven past there, and I was at [63rd and] Troost," Wagoner says. "I hadn't seen anything when I went by, but by the time I got back, there was obviously a large disturbance."
Two officers already were on the scene when Wagoner, the sergeant in charge, arrived. It was shortly after 3 p.m., just about the time students from the newly opened Southwest Charter School were making their way home on foot and by Kansas City Transit Authority bus.
Around thirty of the middle school's students were throwing punches, yelling and jumping off of buses. More officers converged on the scene, but the melee escalated.
"The majority of the crowd did disperse, and the fight was broken up," Wagoner says, "but there was still a lot of screaming and yelling, and we couldn't get them to leave. Both male and female students kept arguing and trying to get the crowd to come back and start fighting."
Finally, one of the officers reached for his belt. He pulled out a canister of pepper spray.
"There were several students who refused to back away," Wagoner says. "A basic statement was made for them to leave, and some of the students stood there yelling certain expletives. Because of the potential for violence, the pepper spray was sprayed into the air. Nobody was directly sprayed."
But Francis Ford Crow, a Southwest Charter School seventh-grader in the crowd, says some of the burning mist landed in students' eyes. (Another witness says the cops aimed the spray directly at the students.) Some of them went into the Mr. Goodcents Subs & Pasta shop, a popular after-school hangout, to flush their eyes with water.
The cops took two Southwest Charter students -- a boy and a girl, both age 14 -- to the KCPD's juvenile unit downtown and cited them for creating a public disturbance and refusing to obey police orders. The rumble, in which no injuries were reported, allegedly stemmed from several female students' dating the same male students.
"It doesn't surprise me what they were fighting about," Francis says. "Being at Southwest is a violent experience, not a learning experience. It's a hypocrisy."
Last summer, Southwest Charter School made a controversial move into the old Southwest High School building at 6512 Wornall Road after completing its first year with 160 students in the cramped and windowless basement of Temple B'Nai Jehudah on East 69th Street.
From the outset, the Kansas City, Missouri, School District -- deemed inferior by charter school organizers seeking to reform public education -- bristled at allowing Southwest to open in a vacant building that carried the legacy of the once-proud Southwest High School. School district officials wanted to use the four-story building for other purposes. Negotiations for acquiring the old Southwest High property grew melodramatic last March, when Southwest Charter students staged a protest hoping to convince the KCMSD board to reverse a tie vote that denied the school access to bigger and better digs. Two months later, the Kansas City school board, in a legally questionable 5-4 vote, approved a month-to-month lease for the charter. District officials later claimed that they might have erred by approving the lease with only five votes instead of six.