Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of sexual violence. Resources are available here.
On Oct.7 a Black woman in Kansas City, Missouri, escaped from a serial killer after being held captive for a month. The abductor, 39-year-old Timothy Haslett Jr. Haslett, was charged with rape, kidnapping and second-degree assault, according to local news channel Kansas City TV.
Haslett repeatedly raped and tortured the victim. The victim, who has not been officially named, claimed Haslett killed her other friends and she was only able to escape once Haslett left to take his child to school.
According to The Guardian, the Kansas City police dismissed concerns from the community about a possible serial killer because the claims were “completely unfounded.” The police defended their response to the community because they claimed there were no missing persons reports.
Horrifying stories like these are what strengthen Black peoples’ distrust in the police. It reinforces the idea that the police don’t care about the safety or wellbeing of Black and Brown communities.
In most cases police will not investigate a missing person, unless an official missing person's report is filed with the police department. According to the Kansas City Police Department per procedural instruction for a missing persons, one criterion is there must be a strong indication of foul play. Report should be made with the police department.
However, I believe the words from the community should be enough for police to investigate. Police are supposed to collaborate with the community to solve crime, not dismiss their concerns.
A non-profit Kansas City newsroom published a video of community leader, Bishop Tony Caldwell, saying he receive information about a possible location of the women had been kidnapped from, according to The Guardian.
The police were made aware of this, yet they still did nothing. And when the victim was questioned, the victim said the location where she was kidnapped was the same location Caldwell named.
While the police, weren’t certain if Caldwell claims were true, this potential information should have been enough for police to investigate instead of treating them like rumors.
If there were women in the communities were those policemen lay their heads, I’m sure there would be no hesitation for them to investigate, regardless of a missing person’s report because they know the day-to-day within their community.
[Related links: The system of policing needs to be dismantled]
People within the Black community knew that there was a disruption within their communities. The victim’s community reached out to the police whose supposed job is to “protect and serve,” yet they neglected their pleads.
There is a constant cycle of police ignoring the cries for help from Black people.
This can even be seen 30 years ago, when police failed to investigate Jeffrey Dahmer after Dahmer’s neighbor called the police several times about suspicious activity going on in his apartment. The police had several opportunities to catch Dahmer, and his number of victims increased because of their neglect.
What are Black and Brown communities supposed to do when the police ignore their cries for help? What good are the police if they couldn’t even do a simple investigation to find out if the worries from the community were warranted or not?
The answer to these questions is simple. The entire system of policing needs to be eradicated.
A list of resources is available here if you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment or abuse.