‘Sincerely, I’m disappointed’: KCPD chief on failures in Crimes Against Children unit
The scope of the Kansas City Police Department’s failures investigating crimes against children became clearer Thursday when the department released incident reports of 149 cases that detectives severely mishandled over a period of several years.
Of those reports, 26 concerned sodomy of a child and 22 reported molestation. There were 12 cases of forcible rape and 10 of statutory rape. There were 24 cases of child abuse, including 11 of aggravated child abuse.
The 149 heavily redacted reports reveal little about the actual crimes, the suspects or what measures detectives undertook to investigate the allegations.
The release of the documents comes about a month after Police Chief Rick Smith announced the Police Department had concluded its review of the internal investigation into its failed crimes against children unit.
Smith announced that 17 officers faced discipline, including seven who are no longer with the department. Police officials did not disclose details of who was disciplined and how, or under what circumstances the seven left the force.
The investigation began in the fall of 2015 when Police Department officials learned that detectives failed to properly investigate many rapes, child molestation cases and other crimes against children over a period of several years.
Smith said the cases involved generally took place between 2011 and 2016. The released records show reports that were made between Jan. 2, 2013 and Aug. 26, 2015. One case was reported in 2007.
Thirteen of the reports mentioned arrests and prosecutions. If an arrest was made later, the reports released Thursday did not reveal that information.
In 31 cases, the description of the offense was labeled “miscellaneous.”
In at least 27 of the cases, the accusations of crimes against children were reported by staff at Children’s Mercy Hospital.
In several incidents, alleged perpetrators went unpunished and young crime victims were denied justice. In at least one case an offender went on to hurt another child.
The full scope of the failure was not immediately made public. The Star reported in 2016 that police memos identified nearly 150 cases that had been “severely mishandled,” in some cases showing “gross negligence” by detectives and possibly deceitful attempts to cover up omissions.
Investigators found that detectives neglected to work on some cases for months, misplacing evidence in desks with no note to indicate what case it belonged to.
Smith largely attributed the failures to the division’s organizational structure and also “identified personal failures among commanders, supervisors and detectives,” such as failing to address large individual caseloads.
One detective was trying to investigate 80 cases a month, Smith said. Another detective inherited 72 cases on the day he joined the unit.
A sergeant and captain are now tasked each month with reviewing each detective’s caseload.
At the end of 2017, police officials said the investigation was finished and under review. Another year passed before Smith announced that officers had been disciplined, changes had been made in how the unit was managed, and the department considered the matter closed.
The Police Department had, in 2015, suspended two sergeants and seven detectives as part of their initial internal investigation. Those detectives later returned to work and were reassigned to other duties.
Internal police documents identified the suspended detectives as Gleanice Brown, Latondra Moore, Tamara Solomon, Amy Klug, Robert Roubal, Travis Menuey and James Foushee.
Roubal and Foushee are now assigned to the investigations bureau, while Menuey works in the patrol division. Solomon is assigned to a supply unit and the others remain in patrol.
Klug left the Police Department while the internal investigation was ongoing.
Prior to the internal review, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker wrote a highly unusual letter to then Police Chief Darryl Forté, sharply criticizing the work of Brown and Moore.
Peters Baker said in the letter that the two detectives were unfit for police work and demanded that neither respond to 911 calls or handle evidence.
Brown left on Jan. 13, less than a week after Smith announced the discipline of the officers. Moore is still on duty as a patrol officer.