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What’s happened to Kansas City Police’s Cold Case Unit? Depends on whom you ask

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 3:47 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:50 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - There’s controversy this afternoon surrounding Kansas City Police Department’s Cold Case Squad. The department will be shifting investigators from that department to other departments within the force. The move has some people up in arms, including Mayor Quinton Lucas.

The Police Department sent us a statement about the changes:

The duties of the Missing persons/Cold Case squad remain in existence, and the positions remain available as staffing is increased. The bulk of the staffing will be used for the time being to ensure that new/incoming cases are investigated as they are fresh through other investigative squads.

The statement goes on to say that no case will go unworked when new information comes in. But Mayor Lucas took to social media to express his concerns:

I am very concerned that the Chief in his final weeks has unilaterally elected to cut the cold case squad, without a public vote or discussion by the Police Board, when at the same time, the Council-approved police budget, for which I fought hard, gives KCPD a 4.7% increase.

He goes on to say:

This decision….is a disservice to victims’ families.

Not everyone agrees. Robert Norris’ stepson was killed in 2013, but no arrest was made until 2017. He co-founded Corey’s Network to help families searching for answers in the death of their loved ones. He thinks the move may lead to a department reorganization where cold cases will get some attention.

“The department will reorganize and give focus to unsolved homicides directly through the homicide unit,” said Norris. “Currently, the department groups many unsolved cases together. So having more experienced police officers, investigating those crimes would be good thing.”

He said there are many families in the metro area looking for answers.

“People have no idea how deep it is,” said Norris. “When people don’t have answers for the homicides of their loved ones…..the most horrific part of it is when we have a general of idea of who that could be and no one responds to it.”

Staffing is a concern for almost every major law enforcement department across the county. Kansas City is no exception. KCPD is down more than 200 officers than what it has budgeted for. That’s down 17 percent. A police spokesperson says they are actively recruiting—it has a recruiting unit that is active on social media. It recently produced some recruitment videos to attract good candidates.

“Every career field is struggling right now, policing is no different,” said Public Information Officer Jake Becchina. “The year and a half stretch from 2020 into 2021 where we did not have an academy class caused a deficit that we are actively working to turn around.”