PLATTE CITY, Mo. — Police and prosecutors in the Northland are coming together, pleased that Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill Monday they believe will help stop violent criminals.
Violent crime in Kansas City isn’t confined to the urban core. Police in the Northland are seeing a steady spike in gun-related crimes, too.
“These weapons are more prevalent every day, and officers are taking a greater risk every day to try and even walk up to a car or go on that call. We need to get these tools in place to start stopping these people and keeping them where they need to be, to make this a better situation for all of us,” Platte County Sheriff Mark Owen said.
Police, sheriff’s departments, prosecutors and Kansas City’s mayor say repeat offenders are a big part of the problem.
“We’ve seen enough carnage, enough violence, enough devastation in our communities. We’ve seen there are some people and certainly know the cases where there has been a revolving door of criminality,” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said.
The group believes Missouri Senate Bill 600 could make a dent.
The bill calls for anyone convicted of murder to be ineligible for probation. The bill would also create stiffer penalties for those convicted of armed criminal action and anyone previously convicted of a dangerous felony, who is later caught illegally owning a gun.
“We will do everything we can to see these provisions become part of Missouri law. It’s essential for our communities. Simply put, lives are in the balance,” Platte County prosecuting attorney Eric Zahnd said.
With a 41% jump in murders in Kansas City alone compared to this time last year, police and prosecutors are thankful Parson enacted the legislation, which had bi-partisan support in the legislature.
“The amount of violence on the streets of Kansas City is unacceptable and we must have the tools to do a better job of having impactful solutions,” said Kansas City Police Deputy Chief Mark Francisco.
Law enforcement officials also hope the governor will call a special legislative session to address funding for a statewide witness protection program, along with strengthening laws on witness intimidation and trying juveniles who commit violent gun crimes as adults.
After signing SB600, Parson tweeted, “There is a lot more to be done.” But so far, he has not committed to convening a special session to tackle additional criminal justice reform.