KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The news that Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith disbanded the department’s Missing Persons Cold Case Squad surprised Mayor Quinton Lucas.

A day after the news surfaced that detectives in the unit were no longer focused on cold cases, Lucas shared his thoughts about the shift on Twitter.

“I am very concerned that the Chief in his final weeks has unilaterally elected to cut the cold case squad, without a public vote or discussion by the Police Board,” Lucas tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

Smith announced the cold case unit disbanded two weeks ago during a South Kansas City Alliance meeting Monday night. He said he made the decision to move the detectives back to homicide and other squads to immediately get more detectives on the streets.

Lucas said he doesn’t understand why the decision to disband the unit was needed.

“With a $12m budget increase for next year, I cannot fathom why command staff at the eleventh hour would eliminate this vital area of crime fighting and send a signal to hundreds of Kansas Citians that we are giving up on justice for their loved ones,” Lucas tweeted.

The mayor said he plans to work to reverse the decision during future Police Board meetings. He also tweeted that he believes commissioners should have been told about the change before it happened.

According to Chief Smith, the police department is down to 1,140 officers from a peak of 1,387 during his 4.5-year tenure.

The department’s $269 million budget was approved March 24. It provides raises and funding to add about 90 more officers.

Smith said Monday that cold cases will be investigated if there is a new tip or new evidence, but detectives won’t be actively working those cases.

In a follow-up email, KCPD sent the following statement to clarify the Chief’s comments:

“The duties of the Missing persons/Cold Case squad remain in existence, and the positions remain available as staffing is increased. The bulk of the staffing will be used for the time being to ensure that new/incoming cases are investigated as they are fresh through other investigative squads.  This in no way takes away from the capabilities of investigators to investigate and follow up on fresh leads in “cold cases”.  No case will go un-worked when information supports follow up or new investigation. “

Chief Smith plans to retire next week.

While Kansas City, Missouri disbanded its cold case unit, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department recently launched its own.

Three full-time detectives are reviewing unsolved cases for new evidence, according to KCK Police Chief Karl Oakman.

KCK police have about 285 unsolved homicides, some of which date back about 50 years.

Oakman, a former KCPD Deputy Chief, said he hopes fresh review, combined with new DNA technology and other advances in forensic testing may help bring justice to victims’ families.

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