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New app will allow Kansas Citians to report missing people without the police

According to the Missouri Sate Highway Patrol, in 2023 there have already been 357 Adults and 1058 juveniles that have been reported missing
Photo Illustration by Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
According to the Missouri Sate Highway Patrol, in 2023 there have already been 357 Adults and 1058 juveniles that have been reported missing

After Black residents criticized how Kansas City Police were not taking their concerns seriously, Bishop Tony Caldwell and his community group, the Justice and Dignity Center, say they've created a new app aimed at finding missing people.

People in the Kansas City community have expressed frustrations lately with how the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department has dealt with searching for missing people, especially Black women.

The community organization Justice and Dignity Center, led by Bishop Tony Caldwell, decided to take action on their own and created an app for residents to report people who have gone missing.

Caldwell has not released the name of the app yet, but says it is set to go live on March 1.

Caldwell told KCUR's Up To Date that one major issue is that some of the missing Kansas Citians are unhoused or sex workers, whose address and full name might not be known. That can mean missing persons reports are hard to solve or never filed in the first place.

"We've talked with people where they've actually said the police turned them away," Caldwell said. "If you have someone that's missing, that is heartbreaking to them to be turned away. So we're not turning anyone away."

Caldwell says his team at the Justice and Dignity Center have their own group of people who are going out into the community to gather information, and by partnering with other community agencies, they've been able to develop trust with residents.

"They see us every day. We're the ones who bring them clothes, we're the ones that feed them and we're the ones that house them," Caldwell said. "They're familiar with us. So you know they're more cooperative."

According to the Black and Missing Foundation, Black children who go missing are "usually classified as runaways" by police, "even when they are young or it's out of character."

"I hope that one day that this changes, but if a white young lady goes missing, you see it all over media," Caldwell said. "If a black young lady goes missing, 'Oh, she's just a prostitute or runaway, and that's not true.'"

  • Bishop Tony Caldwell, founder of the Justice and Dignity Center

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