Missouri Governor Mike Parson met with representatives from the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD), Jackson County Sheriff Darryl Forté and local leaders at East Patrol Division Monday to discuss the city’s violent crime.
Joined by Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten, Parson is on a tour of Missouri to discuss violent crime and with various law enforcement agencies and local leaders.
Missouri has experienced more homicides in the first seven months of 2020 than it did in all of 2019.
Parson called a special session of the Missouri General Assembly. The special session, beginning July 27, will focus on amending state statutes related to violent crime.
Six provisions will be considered: police and public safety employee residency requirements for St. Louis, juvenile certification, witness statement accessibility, witness protection fund, endangering the welfare of a child, and unlawful transfer of weapons.
Parson outlined the provisions, which he called non-partisan, at Monday’s press conference.
“At the end of the day, what are the things that I feel we can get done to give people the tools they need to go after violent criminals?” Parson asked. “Violent criminals we are going to have to take off the streets by whatever means it takes.”
Parson said one of the provisions that is critical to address in the special session is the witness protection plan and its funding.
“I think that’s something we should’ve gotten done last year, and for some reason we didn’t,” Parson said.
The changes include allowing certain statements to be admissible in court that are otherwise not allowed currently. This would allow those who are taking a risk by testifying to use technology or other means to testify.
“The witness protection piece is one that is especially important, I believe,” Karsten said. “We need our community’s help in solving the violent crime that we’re seeing, we need people to come forth as witnesses, and we also need to recognize that our victims have a harder way to go and people will not come forward and assist with solving these violent crimes.”
KCPD Chief Rick Smith brought attention to the city’s 106th homicide of the year, which happened just hours before the meeting.
“We know we have to take some action, and there’s a sense of urgency right now,” Smith said. “I hope that we as a state in Missouri can capitalize on that and bring safety to all our communities, Kansas City included.”
Parson said returning KCPD to local control is a legislative issue, once voters in Kansas City decide that. That vote could happen this November if the City Council passes Ordinance 200496, which will be considered for the Special Committee for Legal Review on Tuesday.
Parson will give an update on current events in Missouri on Wednesday at 3 p.m.