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Long-time community advocate Alvin Brooks weighs in on KCPD's reinstated missing persons unit

Alvin Brooks
Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-11 23:35:36-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KSHB 41 heard the voices of the community this past spring when the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department announced it would change how it approaches missing persons cases. 

Alvin Brooks was a big voice for the community when it came to homicides and missing persons cases.

He's known as a founding member of the AdHoc Group Against Crime established in 1977. He helped start the group after so many kidnappings and disappearances, particularly in the Black community.

"Mark my words, the middle of next week, the person responsible will be in custody," he said during a vigil in 2009.

Brooks has worn many hats, including a former police officer, former police commissioner and an advocate that hit the streets helping families locate their loved ones.

"I went on the radio, we passed out flyers, and I said kinda bluffing, 'We know where you are and who has you and you need to come home.' The child called the mother, and said, 'Can you come get me? I'm at such and such location.'"

 Brooks is 91 years old now.

 "Some will say, 'Brooks, you’re retired," he said. "I say, 'I don’t want to hear that — that’s a dirty word.'"

The community knows they can still count on him. They still call him to this day.

"I have to direct them to AdHoc or police depending on the case," Brooks said.

Brooks wants them to count on KCPD too, especially after the department re-instated its missing persons unit.

"It came after protests and an incident with one African American woman and she said there were others, and it snowballed into we have a unit to missing persons which I think is very good," he said.

He's referring to the kidnapping in Excelsior Springs last year.

To get a sense of KCPD’s case load, Missouri State High Patrol has every active missing persons case they’re investigating. There are 132. Some go back to the 1970's.

"The biggest change is, before detectives had those missing persons cases, they also had to investigate other criminal offenses," KCPD Sgt. Kristofer Oldham said. "Now, we’re in a scenario where their primary responsibility is those cases, but they can have a continuing dialogue with families."

They have more resources and more manpower to come away with wins for the community.

"Get the info so we could find that little girl or little boy, or a man who had Alzheimer’s, who was lost and didn’t know where he was we were able to track those people down and get them back to their loved ones," he said.

Some advice from Brooks, a win for families is don’t stop calling.

"Many times, a case was assigned to a detective and they had a heavy workload," Brooks said. "You need to explain that to families and I want you to know I have x number of cases and each one is important."

 KCPD said they are working with AdHoc to use social media more as an outreach tool and create videos amplifying their missing persons cases.