A three-year internal investigation of the Kansas City Police Department Crimes Against Children Section resulted in the discipline and termination of members of the organization. Police Chief Rick Smith announced Tuesday, Jan. 8 the findings and conclusion of the investigation.
The Crimes Against Children Section is responsible for investigating sexual and physical abuse involving child victims, including child endangerment, child abandonment, parental kidnapping, and interference with child custody.
Chief Smith apologized to those who were impacted most– the children and families.
“I want to apologize to the children and families who did not receive the service they should expect from us. I also want to apologize to the people of Kansas City, who rightfully expect their police department to provide excellent service to vulnerable victims.”
The investigation into the organization began in 2015 when then Police Chief Darryl Forte was informed that cases were not being handled effectively.
In January 2016, members of the Crimes Against Children Section had been suspended with pay. They returned a week later and were assigned other duties. Other veteran detectives were then brought in on special assignment to take over the cases and prepare them for prosecution.
Chief Smith said the investigation revealed issues with the organization as well as among individual commanders, supervisors and detectives.
A total of 149 cases spanning from 2011-2016 have been identified that did not receive the proper attention– or any attention at all.
Massive caseloads were cited as a major concern among the organization. He said one detective was trying to investigate 80 cases a month and another detective inherited 72 cases the day he started in the unit.
“Organizationally, failure reached to the highest levels of this Department,” said Chief Smith. “There were no processes in place within this organization to address the issues of detectives’ caseloads growing too large.”
Chief Smith said the investigation also shed light on personal failures among commanders, supervisors, and detectives.
“Among these were failure to address caseload issues, failure to follow up on some cases in a timely manner, and ultimately failure to submit cases prepared most effectively for prosecution.”
The entire investigation into the Department as a whole, the organizational aspect, personal issues among members, and each individual case resulted in 28 binders of investigative documents.
Chief Smith said the investigation resulted in internal disciplinary measures being recommended against 17 members who were assigned to the Crimes Against Children Section or its chain of command. These recommendations ranged from disciplinary counseling to termination. Of the 17 members recommended for discipline, seven are no longer employed by the Department. According to state statute, the identities of those members cannot be released.
The Crimes Against Children Section has been renamed to the Juvenile Section, and is now fully staffed. Two detectives have been added, totalling 10 detectives and two sergeants, creating an entirely new staff and chain of command.
Chief Smith said they also are working with Department members to improve case file submissions so they have the greatest possible opportunity for successful prosecution.
Additionally, all Department commanders have also undergone additional leadership and ethics training to enhance accountability and prevent complacency at every level of the organization.
A sergeant and captain must now review caseloads every month with detectives. If a case is marked inactive, a supervisor must review it to determine if the inactive mark was appropriate and a commander must also review the case.
Chief Smith said the Department has also enhanced relationships with child advocacy groups and has a Memoranda of Understanding with the Child Protection Center in Jackson County, the Children’s Advocacy Center serving Clay and Platte counties and the Jackson County Children’s Division.
All families of the 149 cases have been notified of the status of their cases. Chief Smith urges those who still have questions regarding their case to contact the KCPD Juvenile Section at 816-234-5150.