KANSAS CITY, Mo -- The Kansas City Police Department says dozens of officers failed some of the city's youngest victims.
On Thursday, KCPD released 149 reports that show crimes against children that were mishandled in some way. Each of the 149 reports ignored by KCPD Crimes Against Children detectives represents a child who said they were abused or neglected.
Someone went to police for help and in 149 cases, those cries for help fell on deaf ears.
KCPD lawyers redacted much of the reports because they involve minors. Underneath the black lines are tragic stores of child abuse and neglect.
Of the 149 police reports, 28 are for rape, 27 cases of molestation, 29 sodomy reports, 9 regarding sexual misconduct, 7 assault and 34 abuse cases. All those among other crimes against children who had nowhere to go but to the police for help.
“Some of them are still unsafe. Some of them and their families know that what happened to them didn't matter to society, and that is not OK," said Dr. James Anderst, the director of the Division of Child Adversity and Resilience at Children’s Mercy Hospital. His department is also known as the SCAN Clinic. "I think what happened was a combination of personal factors and systemic factors on the law enforcement side that resulted in a failure."
Dr. Anderst’s department doesn't prosecute or investigate child abuse crimes but does medical evaluations on children suspected of being abused to provide useful information for investigators.
KCPD’s internal investigation into the failures of the Crimes Against Children Unit fills 28 binders. As a result of the investigation, 17 unit members were disciplined, and seven are no longer employed by the department.
Besides a complete overhaul of the unit, which is now called the Juvenile Section, KCPD has enhanced its relationship with child advocacy groups and asked them to hold the juvenile unit accountable.
"The children's advocacy centers are the center of the wheel for this interaction,” said Dr. Anderst, whose SCAN Clinic is one of those centers. “And when one of those members isn't following through, it becomes apparent over time to the other members. Shining a light on what is going on there is the most important thing and keeping that light shining. I think if people are doing things well and doing things the right way, there shouldn't be any fear of that sunlight."
Another fix that came out of the investigation is that KCPD is relocating their Special Victims’ Unit with the Child Protection Center and MOCSA into one facility.
That will make it easier for these organizations to communicate and hold KCPD accountable, as well as give victims one place to go for their needs.