After working hard for the past year, law enforcement officials from not only Phelps County, but the counties surrounding it are almost ready to establish a Major Case Squad. The squad will focus on solving homicides that don’t have any leads or clues and will have the same coverage as Troop I from the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The squad is a collaboration of law enforcement officials from all across the area, each getting ready to help each other should the need arise.
Rolla Chief of Police, Sean Fagan, was previously a member of a major case squad during his time in St. Louis, and said he has been wanting to form a similar squad in the area for some time. According to him, he’s seen the value in started one in Phelps County and the surrounding area since he first arrived in Rolla. He said that after talking with other local heads of law enforcement they “got into agreement that it was going to be a good idea.”
Once the squad is fully formed and activated, police departments in the squad’s coverage area will be able to call upon members of the unit from other departments to come and spend their time investigating a homicide with no leads.
The squad will be made up of members from each of the participating departments. There will be a single overall Commander, Captain Rick Hope from the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, as well as Deputy Commanders who will run the callouts along with Report Officers and and Investigators.
When a department comes across a homicide and no leads, they are able to call the Major Case Squad without any cost to themselves. The squad members are paid by their individual departments.
“Everybody who is on the squad is an active member of a police department within the jurisdiction,” said Chief Fagan. “The payment is, when it happens somewhere else, they allow their people to go.”
Once on the scene, the major case squad will spend seven days investigating the homicide. Chief Fagan said the method works well in other cities, and the St. Louis major case squad has had great success with the model, and 95% of similar cases can get solved.
“It works, when you get a group of investigators together, and they’re all experienced…they can really work a case,” said Chief Fagan. He went on to say, “It’s a very successful model, it was started in Kansas City back in the early 60′s, then St. Louis started theirs right after that.”
Chief Fagan said the process to start the squad began about a year ago, when they began writing the policies and procedures while establishing a board of directors. This board consists of a sheriff from each county and several chiefs of police.
As of now, Chief Fagan said the board is preparing to review the applications for supervisors, after which they will begin accepting applications for membership from existing law enforcement within the jurisdiction.
“I want to have 10 commanders with just as many report officers, with as many investigators as we can get,” said Chief Fagan. “You don’t have to be a member of a detective bureau to be an investigator, I just want you to have 3 years of experience.”
Chief Fagan said they already have training arranged for the members, including bringing down members from the St. Louis major case squad to offer their expertise.
“I’m hoping we’ll have the success down here that they have up in St. Louis,” said Chief Fagan.
Phelps County and the surrounding area doesn’t experience the number of major homicide cases that St. Louis does, and Chief Fagan said that if the squad gets activated two or three times a year it would be a lot, considering the participating counties.
“But that’s two or three homicides you normally wouldn’t have the resources to work,” said Chief Fagan. Even though the squad’s area of jurisdiction might not have a history of major homicides, forming the Major Case Squad is a proactive effort against the possibility.
“When it’s needed, we’ll have it,” said Chief Fagan.
By Corbin Kottmann | Rolla Daily News