RAYTOWN, Mo. — Security changes are coming to Raytown parks, one of which turned into a crime scene this summer when a teen was shot and killed.
After hearing recommendations from the Parks Improvement Committee, the Raytown Parks Board voted to hire private security guards.
For now, the security guards will enforce curfews at Kenagy and Colman Parks every day. Three other parks will be patrolled on the weekends. All parks are closed from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m.
In June, 17-year-old Rayauna Hill was shot and killed in Colman Park on Lane Avenue. According to Raytown Police, she wasn’t the intended target of the shooting.
Chester Hill, Rayauna’s grandfather who raised her since she was a baby, said adding private security to the parks is a start for a safer Raytown.
“We`re doing better just a day at a time,” Chester Hill said. “The wife is still…trying to move forward as best we can right now.”
As part of the security pilot program, the private company will collect data for two months and provide the Parks Board with recommendations.
“I think security guards would help with certain areas like a neighborhood watch, but I think we still need our police,” Hill said. “It’s more looking at a security guard and looking at a police officer — the reaction is kind of different. I think it would help as long as someone is there on the ground.”
Hill said if there were more police officers in Raytown, gun violence like the kind that took his granddaughter’s life would decrease.
According to the proposed budget for the city of Raytown, there are 15 patrol officers in Raytown, down from 24 in 2017. The total number of Rayton Police Department employees decreased from 77 people in 2017 to 54 people in 2019.
At the Raytown Board of Alderman meeting Tuesday night, there will be a final reading of the city’s budget. The Police Department’s Budget request is up 7% from last year and has funds for three new hires in the booking department.
“The main thing I think is trying to get the police force up to full staff,” Hill said. “I think that`s the thing we have to work on to see who we have to talk, to vote, raise taxes. We need our police force back up to full staff.”
Rayauna Hill’s homicide is unsolved.
“They’re still working on it. They had to get outside sources to help because of the shortage,” Hill said. “It’s still an open case.”
A spokesperson for the Raytown Police Deparmtnet sent FOX4 this email when we asked why and if an outside agency was involved in the Hill investigation:
“The Hill case is still an open, active investigation. As far as using resources outside of our police department, each case has unique circumstances and must be evaluated individually.
“Many considerations are evaluated in determining if external resources will be requested. Considerations include available manpower that the Raytown Police, number of crime scenes involved, number of witnesses or involved parties, specialized equipment needed, specially trained personnel, and number of immediate leads to follow.
“Assistance can range from processing crime scene(s) only, to activating a Major Case Metro Squad, to working jointly with an assisting agency, to not requiring any assistance at all. In order to provide an appropriate investigation, we’ve never hesitated to enlist the resources of other agencies, even before the staffing reduction.
“In the Hill case, the Missouri State Highway Patrol assisted with the multiple crime scene processing and immediate leads. We have combined resources and are investigating jointly. It’s important to note that, in the two homicide cases after the Hill case, no external assistance was required.”