Governor Mike Parson spent time Monday afternoon at the Springfield Police Department’s southside station, talking with area leaders about the upcoming special session to address issues related to violent crime in the state.
The governor spoke to reporters after the meeting, praising local officials for their support of toughening laws against the most violent crimes in the state. Governor Parson highlighted measures he wants to see pass such as increasing crimes like armed criminal action to felonies where juveniles facing that charge could end up in adult court.
“We have to do all we can to give law enforcement what they need to stop serious crime, violent crime,” Governor Parson said. “We’re not talking about traffic stops, we’re not talking about minor crimes, we’re not talking about minor felonies. We’re talking about violent criminals. We’re talking about the worst of the worst.”
Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott told OI that there’s more to do but he’s pleased with where the governor is going with the special session.
“There’s a lot more to be done but it’s good to start with a foundation and work on the violent crimes,” Arnott said. “The next thing is dealing with the repeat offenders of violent crime. That’s our next step.”
One of the measures that the governor and local officials are hoping passes is the issues related to witness protection.
“There is a current witness protection program in the state and it’s only got $10,000 in it for the entire state,” Springfield Police Chief Williams said. “It’s pretty much useless. What we crafted last year, what the police chiefs and mayor put together…was a one million dollar fund that could be accessed by law enforcement.”
Chief Williams said the fund would allow law enforcement to take a witness out of a dangerous situation where their lives could be in danger and protect them until they can testify or until the danger against them can be contained by police.