One state senator refers to "abominable" conditions in some county jails. Another calls the poor financial support of some county law enforcement "unbelievable."

Maybe the legislature is on the verge of giving sheriffs in Missouri’s poorer counties some help.

The senate has approved a proposal to increase process serving fees by ten dollars, with the proceeds being distributed to the needy counties. The counties will use the money to supplement the salaries of deputy sheriff.

Senate sponsor John Griesheimer of Washington says some counties have high turnover among their deputies because the counties cannot afford to pay them living wages. He says they lack the economic means to get more money for deputies.

Griesheimer headed a committee looking into the problem last year. He says a tour of sheriff’s departments and jails in Wayne and Shelby Counties and found conditions "that would shock you."

"If we’re going to empower the law enforcement community to enforce all these laws, then we ought to be willing to pay for it," Griesheimer told the Senate.

Griesheimer showed frustration during the Senate debate with the leadership of the House of Representatives. Griesheimer’s original bill setting up the supplemental salary fund passed the Senate February 21st. The bill was not assigned to a House Committee by the Speaker until April 2. The chairman of the House Local Government Committee, Vicki Schneider of O’Fallon. still has not called a hearing on the bill.

The version of the bill passed by the Senate today began as a bill on peace officer training introduced in the House by former Moniteau County Sheriff Kenny Jones. Griesheimer’s version adds the deputy salary supplemental provisions to the training provisions of Jones’ bill.

Approval of the Senate Substitute forces the House to consider the salary issue if it wants to get the training legislation passed. The House could vote on the Senate version of the bill, sending it to the Governor, or ask the Senate to discuss a compromise of some kind.


The bill is SS/SCS/HB2224



Download Senators McKenna and Griesheimer discussing conditions (::25 mp3)