KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The KCMO Police Department admits to letting down dozens of the most vulnerable victims in the metro.
At Tuesday’s KCPD Board of Police Commissioners meeting, Chief Rick Smith announced the findings of a three-year investigation into KCPD’s Crimes Against Children Section.
"I am disappointed because I know we are better than this," Smith said.
The investigation, which fills 28 binders, reveals that a staggering 149 cases from 2011-2016 did not receive proper attention -- leaving 149 of the most vulnerable, helpless victims without help or justice.
"On behalf of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, I want to apologize to the children and families who did not receive the service they should expect from us," Smith said, while addressing the commissioners, news outlets and the public.
Smith thanked former KCPD Chief Darryl Forte, who initiated the investigation in 2015, after problems in the unit were brought to his attention.
Massive case loads are one reason cited for the cases being ignored. For example, one detective was investigating 80 cases a month, another inherited 72 cases the day he started in the unit.
"Their pleas for more people and more resources went unheard by command staff," Smith said.
The three-year investigation resulted in 17 members of the Crimes Against Children Section, including its chain of command, recommended for discipline, including termination.
Of those 17, seven have already left the department.
"None of these people are bad people that are involved in this,” Smith said. “There was a bad situation and, as I said, there was some individual responsibility that went along with it, but it is disappointing."
The unit, now called the Juvenile Section, has been revamped with an upgraded chain of command and accountability. It's now staffed with 10 detectives and two sergeants, two more people than before.
"We think we have processes in place now that it shouldn’t happen again,” Smith said. “And some of it, frankly, is just good listening. If people would have listened things could have been different."
KCPD is also working to co-locate its Special Victims Unit with the Child Protection Center and MOCSA to provide victims a one stop resource for help.
Most, if not all, of the 149 victim’s families have been notified of the status of their cases.
If you are one of these families and have questions, call 816-234-5150.
You can see Smith's full statement here.