While she would like to see other issues addressed, a key Democratic lawmaker from Kansas City supports Governor Mike Parson’s (R) special session call for witness protection.
State Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, D-Kansas City, a member of Missouri’s Legislative Black Caucus, says witness protection is a bipartisan issue.
“So we want to make sure that there’s enough funding behind that to relocate people as necessary, or keep them in some type of protective custody until the case is resolved,” Bland Manlove says.
She says police officers cannot complete cases without evidence, like witness statements.
Kansas City has had 106 homicides in 2020, which is about a 35 percent increase from last year. Kansas City Police Chief Richard Smith says there’s a sense of urgency in Kansas City, and that action must be taken.
Bland Manlove and several other state lawmakers from both parties joined the governor this week at the Kansas City Police Department, to hear his presentation about the special session. It begins Monday in Jefferson City.
Bland Manlove would much rather address what she calls the root causes of violence.
“Such as the breakdown of the home, education, health care and how all of those have effects on our day-to-day lives,” says Bland Manlove, who serves on the House Budget Committee.
Governor Parson told Missourinet last week that the only reason he’s calling a special session is for violent crime, and the growing homicide rates in the state. St. Louis has had 135 homicides this year.
“I’d like to see mental health addressed from not only a mental disorder issue, but mental health, a lot of families are broken, so they don’t know how to move through life in an efficient way,” Bland Manlove says.
She says some residents need life coaching, saying some have never been taught how to write checks.
She tells Missourinet that she appreciates Governor Parson calling a special session on violent crime, noting that the Legislative Black Caucus requested that he call one in September 2019. She’s noted that Kansas City and St. Louis have consistently ranked in the top ten deadliest cities for at least a decade.
As for the governor, he traveled to northeast Missouri’s Hannibal on Tuesday afternoon to meet with local leaders and law enforcement officers about violent crime and next week’s special session. Parson held a roundtable discussion at Hannibal-LaGrange, where he was joined by State Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, State Rep. Louis Riggs, R-Hannibal and other lawmakers.
The sheriffs from Marion, Ralls and Lewis counties also attended. Lewis County Sheriff David Parrish is the president of the Missouri Sheriff’s Association.
Click here to listen to the full five-minute interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and State Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove, D-Kansas City, which was recorded on July 20, 2020:
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