Legislation that’s aimed at providing witness protection will be signed into law Monday afternoon by Missouri’s governor in Kansas City and Carthage.
The bipartisan witness protection legislation was one of Governor Mike Parson’s (R) top priorities for the recent special session on violent crime. State Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, says the bill is crucial.
“And what law enforcement has told us is the number one thing they need to prosecute criminals is witnesses that are willing to come forward and testify as to what they saw, so that they can put these criminals behind bars,” Patterson says.
The bill, which is House Bill 66, will create a pretrial witness protection services fund, which will provide security to witnesses, potential witnesses and their immediate families in criminal proceedings or investigations.
“They can use those dollars to find housing for witnesses. Do all the necessary things that you need to get witnesses out of the harmful environment that they’re in,” says Patterson.
The Missouri Senate approved Patterson’s bill 29-0, and it passed the House on a 147-3 vote.
Representative Patterson predicts the bill will help law enforcement officers solve more violent crime.
“You know we have a lot of violent crime in Kansas City unfortunately like St. Louis and I think it will be important to help fight violent crime,” Patterson says.
Kansas City has recorded 143 homicides in 2020, compared to 112 at this time last year. St. Louis has had 195 homicides this year, and the “Post-Dispatch” reported Sunday that St. Louis is on pace to have 240 homicides this year, the highest in 25 years.
As for Governor Parson, he’s praising the two bill sponsors: Representative Patterson and State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with State Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee’s Summit, which was recorded on September 18, 2020:
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