KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With less than a month left during his tenure as the leader of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department, Chief Rick Smith says he made the decision to “disband” the department’s missing persons and cold case squad.
Smith made the remarks during a question and answer session at Monday night’s South Kansas City Alliance meeting.
Smith, who touched on staffing and funding challenges during prepared remarks, that included how the department is having to move around resources to respond to different priorities, eventually took questions from the audience.
One of those questions came from a member of the audience asking what the department does regarding solving cold cases.
“We used to have a missing person/cold case squad,” Smith said. “Just two weeks ago, I disbanded that to put them back into regular homicide and regular assault squad because we don’t have enough detectives.”
Smith said that detectives will still follow up on fresh leads and tips on missing persons and cold case investigations, “but we won’t have people to actively work those cases.”
The 11th hour re-allocation of resources - Smith is set to retire on April 22 - left Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas “concerned.”
The Mayor voiced his concerns on Twitter Tuesday afternoon.
“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, when at the same time, the council-approved police budget, for which I fought hard, gives KCPD a 4.7% increase,” the mayor tweeted.
Chief Smith’s presentation was included in a story that aired at 10 p.m. Monday on KSHB 41. A KCPD spokesperson sent an e-mail to KSHB 41 on Tuesday morning attempting to “clarify” Smith’s remarks.
The clarification appeared to indicate that the unit had not been disbanded.
“The duties of the missing persons/cold case squad remain in existence, and the positions remain available as staffing is increased,” the spokesperson wrote in the e-mail.
“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,” the spokesperson continued. “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.“