People in the Kansas City community have recently expressed frustration with the way the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department has dealt with the search for missing persons, especially black women.
The community organization Justice and Dignity Center, led by Bishop Tony Caldwell, decided to go it alone and created an app for residents to report missing persons.
Caldwell hasn’t released the name of the app yet, but says it will be available on March 1.
Caldwell told KCUR’s Up To Date that one of the main problems is that some of the missing Kansas citizens are unemployed or sex workers, whose addresses and full names may not be known. This can mean that missing person reports are difficult to resolve or never filed in the first place.
“We’ve talked to people where they’ve actually said the police turned them away,” Caldwell said. “If you have someone missing, it’s heartbreaking for them to be rejected. So we’re not pushing anyone away.”
Caldwell says his team at the Justice and Dignity Center have their own set of people who travel to the community to gather intelligence, and by partnering with other community agencies, they’ve been able to build trust with residents.
“They see us every day. We are the ones who bring them clothes, we are the ones who feed them and we are the ones who house them,” Caldwell said. “They know us well. So you know they are more cooperative.”
According to the Black and Missing Foundation, black children who go missing are “usually classified as runaways” by police, “even when they’re young or it’s out of character.”
“I hope one day that changes, but if a young white woman goes missing, you see it all over the media,” Caldwell said. “If a young black woman goes missing, ‘Oh, she’s just a prostitute or a runaway, and she’s not.'”
- Bishop Tony Caldwellfounder of the Justice and Dignity Center