The Kansas City Missouri Police Department announced Thursday that its conducting an internal investigation into case management issues in the Crimes Against Children Section.
According to a news release from KCPD, in October 2015, Chief Darryl Forté became aware of issues with cases in the section not being addressed in a timely manner according to department standards and public expectations.
Crimes Against Children investigates cases in which children ages 16 or younger are victims of physical or sexual abuse, as well as neglect, endangerment, parental kidnappings and custody violations.
As soon as commanders became aware of the case management issues, corrective actions began, and the department launched an internal investigation to determine what led to the problems. That investigation is ongoing, according to the news release.
KCPD said it is concerned that "such serious cases with such vulnerable victims may not have been handled in the most effective manner possible."
Two sergeants and seven detectives in the section were temporarily relieved of duty with pay on Thursday as the investigation continues.
A commander, sergeant and other detectives with experience in Crimes Against Children cases will be assigned to manage the caseload in the interim, according to the news release.
The police department said it has formed a committee to audit case management practices to ensure all other investigative units are performing as expected.
The CAC Unit worked roughly 1,000 cases in 2015. There were eight detectives and two sergeants assigned to the unit, according to officials.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 99 released the following statement on the investigation:
Lodge 99 of the Fraternal Order of Police unequivocally supports the detectives and sergeants of the Crimes Against Children Unit. These public servants have been selected for this unit based upon their decorated careers and proven dedication to the resident of Kansas City. As such, the FOP is confident that after a full investigation the record will reflect that these officers performed their duties satisfactorily and that any perceived delays in concluding particular investigations, which are inevitable in the overloaded criminal justice system, were attributable to the unit's high case load and low manpower. Throughout this process, the FOP will devote substantial resources to protect the rights of these officers. Under these circumstances, it is apparent that a rush to judgment should be avoided.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued the following statement after KCPD announced its investigation:
“It has been my highest priority to protect our community’s most vulnerable population - children. All those responsible for the welfare of our kids must examine where we come up short. Rest assured, my office will assist police in investigating and submitting these important cases.
“In the end, our community must have absolute confidence that all of us – especially police and prosecutors - are doing everything possible, as quickly as possible, to protect our children from harm. I will stand for nothing less.”