Governor Mike Parson is asking the Legislature to allow him to send state prosecutors to St. Louis to bring more charges in murder cases. He extended the special session on violent crime to add this measure.
“We’ve got to address this issue, and we’ve got to quit talking about it and try to figure out what we’ll really put in place, all the way from boots on the ground, to the prosecution, to the courts, all those different entities have to come together to fight violent crime.”
Parson says out of 161 cases so far this year, only 33 have been charged. He says the prosecution rates were too low in 2018 and 2019.
The governor says he did not talk to Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner about the announcement and denies that it’s a personal move. He has publicly disagreed with Gardner’s prosecuting a husband and wife who wielded guns against protesters in their St. Louis neighborhood.
“This is not a personal attack, this is nothing to do with anything that we are trying to find violent criminals that are committing murders,” Parson said Monday at the Capitol.
The proposal does not allow the state Attorney General to supervise or replace the Circuit Attorney. Instead, the Attorney General will be able to prosecute cases if 90 or more days have passed, the chief law enforcement officer makes the request of the Attorney General, and the Circuit Attorney has not yet filed charges.
When asked if he would agree with the federal government taking his cases from him, Attorney General Eric Schmitt replied, “Everybody ought to be working together here. That it’s all hands on deck, that there are no politics when it comes to public safety.”
As the special session continues, a Missouri House panel is considering the Senate-passed crime bill. St. Louis Democrats have been vocal about the scope of its potential prosecution of juveniles as adults and recruitment of police officers from outside of St. Louis.