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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith announced Monday night he has disbanded the Missing Persons Cold Case Squad because of an ongoing shortage of police officers.

Smith explained at a South Kansas City Alliance meeting the move came on the heels of the latest budget negotiations.

You can tell by the quality of the missing person photos on KCPD’s website how long it’s been since some of their families saw them, or had any idea what happened to them. And now it may be even longer.

“We used to have a missing person cold case squad, and just two weeks I disbanded that to put them back into regular homicide and regular assault squad because we don’t have enough regular detectives,” Smith said.

“Which means there are hundreds of families within the urban core who are longing for answers who can not get these answers because it seems that it not a priority for current the police chief or for KCPD,” United Believers Community Church Pastor Darron Edwards said.

According to the chief, there are now 1,140 officers, down from a peak of 1,387 during his 4.5 year tenure.

The latest budget gives raises and plans academies to add about 90 more officers. But still some responsible for that funding seemed blindsided by the elimination of the missing persons cold case squad.

“I hope the police board looks at this seriously because it was shocking to me to hear that they were making that cut. I hadn’t heard that before tonight,” KC Councilwoman Ryana Parks Shaw said.

Smith explained how the cold case squad’s disbanding will impact investigations further by saying , “now it will be if someone calls in with more information on a case we will certainly look at that, but we won’t have people to actively work those cases.”

The department’s $269 million budget was approved March 24.

Smith has announced he will retire April 22, saying he wanted to remain with the department to complete the budget process.

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