Courts & Crime

Kansas City agencies won't seek federal funds to combat human trafficking

Despite its status as an emerging hub for human trafficking, Kansas City may soon lose nearly $1 million in federal funds for police training and aid for trafficking victims.

Two local agencies — the Independence Police Department and Hope House — received three-year Justice Department grants in 2006 but will not reapply, officials said. The grants expired at the end of last year.

It is unknown whether other local agencies will apply for grants, according to Justice Department officials. New grants will be given later this year.

Independence police didn't reapply because detectives must focus on other crimes, said Maj. Ken Jarnigan. Two detectives assigned to human trafficking are now fighting cyber crimes, he said.

"It was a juggling act; which priority do we focus on?" Jarnigan said. "We felt like our department and citizens would be better served by them doing cyber crimes rather than human trafficking. In a perfect world we would have tried to do both."

Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny said in a statement that the shelter would continue to provide services for victims eligible for existing programs.

"However, we will no longer offer human trafficking training or facilitate the coalition against human trafficking," Metheny said.

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