KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Elaine Moore wants the story of every Kansas City, Kansas, child to have a happy ending. Moore, a police officer newly tasked with connecting police to the city's youth, believes that begins by establishing a healthy relationship between youth and the police department.
Chief Terry Zeigler thought she'd be the perfect fit for the department’s new juvenile engagement coordinator position.
“It's me and the kids; I'm about the kids in the community,” said Moore in an interview at Banneker Elementary School.
Moore read stories to students in a second grade classroom Wednesday. Her message for the day was to illustrate how actions control outcomes for the students.
“Respect is a huge thing,” she explained. “For most of the people that have issues, it's because they feel someone disrespected them.”
The mayor of Kansas City, Kansas, held a forum over the summer. Youth in the community told him they feel a gap between them and the police department. The chief of police created Moore's engagement coordinator position to build that relationship. The chief wants her to promote the existing programs the department gears toward children, evaluate their effectiveness and develop new programs.
“You want the kids to trust you,” Moore said.
She works in the department’s community policing division. For most of her career, that meant visiting schools and events around the city. With the new juvenile engagement coordinator title, she’ll continue to work in community policing, but her focus will be on empowering and connecting with children.
Moore hopes giving juveniles a familiar face in the police department will guide children down a crime-free path.
“I can get them steered toward education instead of hanging on the streets, or gun violence, or fighting,” Moore explained.
The department announced the new position at the beginning of the month. After a few weeks, teachers and school staff said they have noticed a difference.
“[The students] love to know that they are cared about. Not just by us, but by everyone in their community,” said Sarah Ross, a counselor at Banneker Elementary School.