The mayors of Missouri’s four largest cities met with Governor Parson at the historic Davis House to discuss the problems of violent crime in the state.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, and Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and support staff discussed the problems of violence in their cities and ways that they could work together to solve them with the help of Governor Parson.
“We’re trying to find a solution to a situation in our state that none of us are very proud of,” Governor Parson said during a press conference. “The main thing that came out of today is that we have to do something. We can’t keep going the way we are and expect any different results.”
All of the mayors said their goals were to find ways to work both with law enforcement and the community as a whole to find solutions that help reduce the levels of crime in their cities.
The mayor’s top concern was gun violence and said that they viewed deaths related to firearms as “a public health epidemic” in a press release. They agreed to work together with state and federal officials.
In addition, they agreed on five action items against crime:
- Share information, develop strategies, and advocate with a common voice.
- Enhance Missouri’s witness protection program.
- Seek increased community mental health and substance abuse funding for victims and offenders.
- Develop steps to process violent offenders more quickly through the criminal justice system to remove them from our communities.
- Support clarifying statutory language to keep firearms out of the hands of children, except for hunting purposes, and violent offenders.
“We agreed to develop shared strategies that respect the Second Amendment, while also protecting citizens, law enforcement and first responders who are charged with protecting the public,” Springfield Mayor Ken McClure said in the press statement. “We are pleased to be able to move forward with an initial action plan after sharing ideas and approaches to addressing this issue.”
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said that working with law enforcement was a key part of the process.
“I want to be conscious of the balance between law enforcement and crime prevention,” Treece said. “My police chief said we can’t arrest our way out of this problem. I think early intervention is important as well as balancing the public’s expectations on law enforcement.”
Springfield police chief Paul Williams told OI that chiefs from each of the cities were also involved in the day’s discussions and there was a general agreement on the problems of guns and drugs.
“We’ve been working with [the other chiefs] in talking about the challenges we face,” Williams told OI. “We all have different issues but we all focused on drugs and guns as the nexus for issues. It may be gang violence for St. Louis, and it’s domestic violence in Springfield, but at the core of the problem is drugs and guns.”
Williams also said relationships between law enforcement and communities was also a discussion point.
“We talked about building those relationships all the time and not just during a crisis,” Williams said. “We’re doing that now and communicating with our neighborhoods and it’s good to get our mayors on board with that as well.”