After a decade-long absence in the Historic Northeast community, the Kansas City Police Department’s (KCPD) East Patrol once again has Community Action Network (CAN) officers to proactively and reactively address crime in our neighborhoods.
The announcement came at the Independence Avenue Community Improvement District (CID) Safety and Security Meeting on June 29 by Center Patrol Major Scott Simons when he introduced the two new East Patrol CAN officers, Carlos Mena and Daniel Hernandez.
According to Mena, the appointment came from East Patrol Major Kari Thompson earlier in the week after the two officers went above and beyond to ensure the safety of a single mom and her daughter, who was having issues with a male party for alleged stalking and unwanted advances.
After multiple calls to the suspect address and tirelessly working with detectives and prosecutors, the suspect was ultimately arrested, charged and deported by the court system back to his home country.
Not stopping there, the two offices worked with the Rose Brooks Center to secure safe housing for the woman and her daughter.
“That’s a huge victory,” Mena said. “A potential child abuser is no longer victimizing this woman and her daughter. That’s just huge.”
Mena has been with KCPD for roughly three years, but has seven years of experience with the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department (KCKPD). Hernandez, who grew up in the Northeast community, has three years on and calls working in his old neighborhood a dream assignment.
“I grew up around St. John and Spruce, and graduated from high school and went off to the military,” Hernandez said. “My Mom moved into the neighborhood, this is my home and I would like to see it change and be better than it is now.”
Prior to launching the program, Hernandez and Mena went to meet with fellow CAN Officer Chatto Villalobos, who works out of the Westside CAN Center near 20th and Madison.
Villalobos offered up some sage advice: “Make it your own, make it your community and use your networking skills inside the department to get other agencies involved in problem solving. What you put into it, you’ll get out of it.”
Mena and Hernandez aren’t 100% proactive, they still respond to calls for service when the need arises. Their proactive work is done when they see the opportunity to spend the extra time and effort to solve a key issue that’s negatively impacting the quality of life for a specific area. For the time being, the CAN area is bounded by Benton Boulevard on the west, Topping on the east, 9th Street on the south and St. John Avenue on the north.
Thompson was excited about adding another dimension to the community.
“The CAN position is not new to KCPD but we now have the amazing opportunity to have two CAN officers at East Patrol Division,” Thompson said. “The goal of these positions is to provide yet another level of community engagement by working with our Community Interaction Officers to identify and bridge resource gaps in our community.”
One of the officers’ goals is to resurrect the Hispanic Citizens Police Academy that was rolled out about three years ago in cooperation with the St. Anthony’s Parish on Benton Boulevard.
After over three months of effort went in to curriculum development and outreach to the Latino community, nobody showed for the first session because of fears of deportation of any undocumented people. Mena and Hernandez want to assure the community that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not be at the event.
“We don’t have a hard date for it right now,” Mena said. “We’ll be out there whenever we have a set date for it. We’re going to be out there talking to everybody, trying to get them to come to the Spanish [Citizens] Police Academy.”
If neighbors have an issue, Hernandez and Mena can work and create a better outcome for all parties involved, they are invited to call the department’s non-emergency number at 816-234-5111 or call the East Patrol Station directly and speak with the Desk Sergeant at 816-234-5530.
For a more in-depth look at the new Northeast CAN Officers and what they’re up to, check out this week’s Northeast Newscast Podcast.