KANSAS CITY, Mo -- It's a new approach to an ongoing problem that some experts believe will improve victim services in Kansas City.
The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault and the Child Protection Center are the leads in creating a new nonprofit that will make it easier for children and adult victims of crime to report it and for the proper agencies to respond in a more effective way.
“The idea is to bring all of the organizations that are involved in the investigation and treatment of child abuse cases as well as sexual violence cases under one roof,” MOCSA President and CEO Julie Donelon said.
If this deal comes together, it will be the first of its kind in Missouri.
“Nothing tore at your heart strings more than a child victim,” said Tammy Dickenson, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.
Having spent 20 years as a prosecutor, Dickenson saw her fair share of horrible cases involving defenseless victims.
In 2017, Dickenson retired and said she would never come out of retirement -- but never say never.
“It fits pretty much hand and glove,” Dickenson said. “What was my first passion in law, now I am basically picking up the mantle again and fighting for the rights of victims.”
Dickenson is now on the board of the Alliance Against Assault and Abuse as well as its fundraising co-chair. This $22 million project was just a dream four years ago.
Across the U.S. there are 180 co-located investigative and response projects like the Alliance Against Assault and Abuse.
Within the first year, cases in those centers doubled, not because of an increase in victims, but because of a better understanding of what each partner brings to the table.
The organizers of this project believe the same thing will happen at the building the alliance hopes to buy at 4400 Blue Parkway.
“When you think about a young mother of three who has been sexually assaulted, who perhaps has to drag her children on the bus to go to the hospital or the police station, to the prosecutor`s office, to MOCSA for therapy -- if you have all of those in one building, her follow-through is going to be much better,” said Lisa Mizell, president and CEO of the Child Protection Center.
“Her ability to follow through in the investigation is going to be higher, and her health in the long term is going to be much more positively effective," she continued.
There is a capital campaign underway to raise the money from private donors, which has taken off pretty quickly.
“Since the capital campaign kicked off in May, we have raised $6.7 million of the $22 million in a very short period of time. I think that just is a very positive way in showing how much this means to the community,” Dickenson said.
Each organization housed in the new building will pay rent.
The one sticking point now is where the money will come from for the KCPD sub-station.
While he supports the program, KCPD Chief Rick Smith is not willing to take officers off of the street to make the $187,000 payment. So organizers will go in front of the Kansas City Council on Sept. 18 to ask for that money.