The division is comprised of four units: Criminal Investigations, Drug Enforcement, and the Career Criminal. Each unit’s primary responsibility is the follow-up investigation of criminal offenses.
In 2009, the Career Criminal Unit was formed to aggressively pursue those who choose to commit crimes instead of living productive lives in society. The Division is also actively involved with the Child Protection Center, the Jackson County Drug Task Force, Regional Cybercrimes Forensic Lab, the Metro Squad, FBI Cybercrimes Task Force and the ATFTask Force.
Criminal Investigations Unit
The Criminal Investigations Unit is responsible for investigating cases in the traditional areas of crimes against property and crimes against persons. There is also a Domestic Violence Team which investigates crimes against family members and Orders of Protection Violations.
In 2009, there were two new “pro-active” teams formed to deal with new challenges facing the City today. The Special Projects Team is made up of two detectives who are assigned armed robberies and CORE projects. This team also assists other units with projects and initiatives. In 2009 the team conducted several Hotel/Motel Interdiction Stings, continued the Independence Center Crime Initiative, assisted the US Marshall’s Office with Project FALCON, assisted Kansas City, MO PD with the Homicide and Violent Crime Initiative, conducted fencing stings and conducted warrant sweeps in the City and Metro area.
In late 2009 the Gang Reduction & Investigation Team was formed to investigate crimes associated with gangs. Independence has experienced an increase in vandalism and crimes which appear to be gang related. This team was formed to actively pursue these individuals. The detectives are assigned cases in their field of expertise to ensure a thorough investigation. The detectives receive annual training from nationally known trainers to keep apprised of changes in the laws and techniques dealing with criminal investigation. Training has been provided on interview and interrogations techniques, death investigations, domestic violence, financial crimes and others.
In 2009, the criminal investigations unit was assigned 1,717 cases with a clearance rate of 65.8%.
Special Victim’s Unit
The Special Victims Unit (SVU) is a full-time unit tasked with the responsibility of investigating sex crimes, crimes against children, child exploitation, vice related operations and organized crime. The unit is made up of one sergeant, six detectives and one victim advocate to provide support services to crime victims. In addition, the Special Victims Unit personnel augment the staffing of the Criminal Investigations, Special Investigations and Drug Enforcement units. In 2009, they were assigned 331 cases to investigate.
Housed on the second floor of the Central Police Building in Independence, is one of only 11 operating crime laboratories located in the state of Missouri. Staffed by only 10 employees, the Independence Crime Laboratory serves not only the City of Independence, but 14 other agencies. The laboratory does crime scene processing, fingerprint analysis, and drug and alcohol testing for the various agencies. These services are provided by four disciplinesm within the laboratory, those being the Crime Scene Unit, Latent Prints, Controlled Substances, and Toxicology.
Crime Scene Unit
The Crime Scene Unit consists of five crime scene investigators who have been certified by the International Association of Identification. The duties of the investigators include documenting scenes with photographs, videos, drawings, and written reports. They are also responsible for identifying, collecting, processing, and preserving physical evidence. In 2009, the Crime Scene Unit processed 830 crime scenes, of which three were homicides and 111 were other death investigations.
The Latent Prints section examines fingerprints, palm prints, and shoe impressions left at crime scenes. If the prints contain useable detail, they are compared against the known prints of potential suspects. In the case of fingerprints, if a suspect is not known, the latent fingerprint can be entered into a database known as AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System). In 2009, a total of 1,390 latent prints were evaluated. Of those prints, 305 contained useable detail that led to 90 identifications. Also of note in 2009 was the comparison and match of a shoe print left by a suspect in the robbery of a local pizza restaurant. The suspect in that case is believed to be responsible for numerous armed robberies that were committed throughout the Kansas City area.
Controlled Substances and Toxicology sections are two disciplines in the laboratory that are manned by the department’s only two chemists. Drugs, urine, and blood alcohol are all tested by the forensic chemists using stateof-the-art equipment that includes the Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer and a Fourier Transform Infra-Red Spectrometer. They process 75 to100 drug cases per month. There was a larger demand for the chemists services in 2009 because of an increase of illicit tablet manufacture moving from Ecstasy tablets ( MDMA ) to BZP tablets (Benzylpiperazine-mimic ecstasy tablets).
In 2009 the chemists have processed more than 125 DWI/DUI cases identifying blood alcohol and common drugs of abuse in the toxicology section of the lab for prosecution purposes.
The Crime Laboratory also applied for ASCLD Accreditation in September 2009. This accreditation will encourage quality investigation and testing processes to further the success of the laboratory.