New police unit will conduct more aggressive investigations for cold cases, missing persons and sex crimes

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A new police unit that just launched this week in Kansas City, Mo., is giving detectives a better chance at solving cold cases and bringing families closure.

For years, there has been only one detective investigating more than a hundred missing person cold cases at KCPD. Now, that detective will join forces with several others who have long focused on just one area.

Together, they will more aggressively investigate runaway child cases, and cold cases for homicides, sex crimes and missing persons in one shared room on the 6th floor of police headquarters.

Captain Todd Paulson, who helped launch the new unit, told FOX 4 the change will allow detectives to share resources and information on countless investigations, and give old evidence a fresh set of eyes.

“Obviously any time somebody’s missing,” he said, “it’s traumatic to the family, so the more resources that we can put towards it, the better we are. This just gives more dedicated resources to go out and look for people.”

It's a change Capt. Paulson said was partly inspired by the high profile case of missing Belton teenager, Kara Kopetsky, who disappeared eight years ago.

“You have to believe that one day, you are going to get resolution,” Kara’s mother, Rhonda Beckford, told FOX 4 Friday afternoon.

Kara’s aunt works at KCPD in the metro property crimes unit, and hatched the idea to combine resources on cold cases more than a year ago.

Capt. Paulson said there just wasn’t enough money in the budget to hire new people, which got him thinking creatively on how he could restructure existing resources to create a new unit.

“It’s a combination of missing persons,” he said, “and cold case homicides, cold case sex crimes, and they’ll also be handling runaways.”

Capt. Paulson said he wants the public to know KCPD is not going to lose sight of the cold case crimes, and said this change will help detectives investigate cases more aggressively.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Beckford said, “because unfortunately, whenever you have a missing person, basically after the first year, it becomes a cold case and a lot of time it gets put up on the shelf and it just collects dust. They have new cases that come in every day, every week and they take priority.”

“Maybe somebody new coming in is going to see something and think of something that the person who was investigating it before didn’t,” she said.

Capt. Paulson said the new unit won't cost taxpayers anything since its detectives were just shuffled around, not newly hired.

In the five days since they started working together, detectives have already located three missing people.