(Audio is courtesy of Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC)
Saying that violent crime and homicides are escalating across Missouri, Governor Mike Parson traveled to Kansas City and Springfield on Monday afternoon to meet with local leaders and law enforcement officers about next week’s special session.
The special session about violent crime starts Monday in Jefferson City.
“There’s no doubt with the homicide increases across the state, especially St. Louis, Kansas City, even Columbia and Springfield Missouri, across our state. It’s something we don’t want to be happening every day,” Parson tells Kansas City reporters.
The governor was joined in Kansas City by state lawmakers from both parties, who listened to his presentation. Parson was also joined by state Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Sandy Karsten and by Kansas City Police Chief Richard Smith, who notes there was another homicide while the roundtable meeting was about to begin.
Kansas City has had 105 homicides in 2020, a 35 percent increase from last year. Chief Smith says there is a sense of urgency in Kansas City, and that action must be taken. The chief thanks the governor and state lawmakers for addressing the violent crime issue.
As for Governor Parson, he says witness protection and juvenile certification will be key parts of the upcoming special session. He also says eliminating the residency requirement for St. Louis Police officers is another key part of the call.
“One of the reasons since I’ve been governor that’s been an issue for the last two years since I’ve been there (as governor), they have run consistently about 150 to 200 officers down in their police department,” says Parson.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden testified in January that the residency requirement is the greatest challenge that his department has with recruitment and retention.
DPS Director Karsten says witness protection is essential to reducing Missouri’s homicide rates.
“We need our communities’ help in solving the violent crime that we’re seeing. We need people to come forth as witnesses,” Karsten says.
A key part of the governor’s January State of the State Address was $1 million in funding for witness protection. Despite bipartisan support in both chambers, the measure did not pass this year.
Click here to watch the full Kansas City media briefing, courtesy of Missourinet Kansas City television partner KMBC.
State Reps. Ashley Bland Manlove, D-Kansas City, Richard Brown, D-Kansas City, Jerome Barnes, D-Raytown, and Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, were among the lawmakers who listened to the governor’s Kansas City presentation. They also participated in the roundtable discussion.
Representative Bland Manlove tells Missourinet that witness protection is a bipartisan issue. She also says that while she supports Governor Parson on the issue of witness protection, she would much rather see the special session address issues such as mental health, education and health care. She also notes that the Legislative Black Caucus requested a special session last year, about violent crime.
Governor Parson also traveled to Springfield on Monday, where he met with Police Chief Paul Williams, Springfield officers and Greene County Sheriff’s deputies. State lawmakers also joined the governor at the Springfield visit.
Springfield has had 15 homicides this year, and the “News-Leader” reports the city is on pace to break its previous yearly record of 16.
The governor will travel to northeast Missouri’s Hannibal on Tuesday afternoon to meet with leaders there about the special session.
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