KANSAS CITY, Mo — Majority of the nearly 1,400 KC police officers fight crime on the street, but there's a small number of officers making the city safer in a whole new way.
Officer Kim Shaw-Ellis is a unit of one, but she's mighty and passionate. As a KCPD Diversity Officer, her job is to act as a liaison between minority communities that feel under-served, to give them a voice -- including the LGBTQ community.
“Every community, every person in our city deserves to feel safe and should feel safe and protected,” Shaw-Ellis said.
The relationship between KCPD and the gay community is one she calls fractured.
”I truly care, and I don’t an there to be that divide,” Shaw-Ellis said. “I want members of the LGBTQ community that I am part of to know that we are here to protect and serve all.”
Shaw-Ellis is working to change that dynamic. Whether that's speaking to thousands at KC Pride Fest or a to 13-year-old boy in crisis she recently helped. He didn't feel safe to coming out as gay, so instead he was acting out on the internet, being groomed by a pedophile.
“We put together what was happening, and there is a huge concern,” Shaw-Ellis said. “Of course my biggest concern is his safety because he is in a very high-risk category for being sex trafficked. He is in a very high-risk category of suicide, of being so isolated and alone and feeling like he has nowhere to turn and no one to talk to to just simply be who he is.”
Cynthia Hoffman is the Youth Street Outreach Program manager at Synergy Services. She said what's so valuable about what Shaw-Ellis is doing is that it shows those who feel that they do not have a voice that they're accepted.
“Any time an adult really takes the time to listen to a youth and their story and to ask what do you want to see change in your community? That is when change happens,” Hoffman said.
Not only is Shaw-Ellis reaching out to those who feel under-served, but she's also bringing that information back to the department to affect policy and training, educating her fellow officers and command staff on how to most effectively work with the diverse minority populations in Kansas City.
One of the most important things she's doing now is trying to recruit people from the LGBTQ community and other minority groups to join the police department as officers or civilian employees so KCPD can look more like the city it serves.
The next recruitment effort is on July 14. Open testing will be held at the Regional Police Academy. Click here for more information.