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Local officials meet with Governor Mike Parson ahead of the special legislature session

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 10:32 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Next week Missouri lawmakers head back to Jefferson City for a special session to find ways to address violent crime throughout the state of Missouri especially in our biggest cities.

Governor Parson sat met with local leaders and law enforcement at the Springfield Police Department’s south side station Monday afternoon to discuss what is needed to handle violent crimes on a local level.

Though gun violence and homicide are much bigger problems in Saint Louis and Kansas City the Ozarks sees it's fair share too.

Authorities outlined their biggest concerns for the governor.

“These numbers keep accelerating at a high rate and it’s time we take action,” said Governor Mike Parson.

This year, hundreds of people across Missouri have been violently killed.

“We’ve got to be able to give law enforcement all of the resources we have to fight major crime,” said Parson.

He is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City to find ways to fight the increase in violent crimes.

Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott said, “We’re unlike Kansas City and Saint Louis which is a good thing. Rates are not high like that. But we still deal with it.”

“The level of violent crime is not at those levels but it’s at a higher level than we’ve ever experienced,” said Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams.

Local law enforcement said that one of the biggest problem in the Ozarks involves guns.

“People giving children guns to be able to utilize in a crime or hold it for them. We see that all the time.

The issue is that the bad guys know that if they give their gun to a kid, the kid's probably not going to get prosecuted because he's a juvenile.

We need to enhance the penalties against the perpetrator that's actually using them as a tool," explained Arnott.

Williams said, “We’ve seen the number of shots fired calls and gun related crimes go up every year. It’s increased exponentially over what it was 10 years ago.”

Another major obstacle in successfully prosecuting violent crime cases locally is getting people involved to come forward.

“We don’t have a funding streams that we can utilize to put somebody up in a hotel for a week or some place,” said Arnott. That’s difficult for us to try to deal with and take care of the victims and the witnesses.”

“We want people to have the opportunity and resources to defend themselves but sometimes you make it so difficult for those people who have been victims that they just give up,” said Williams.

Parson said, “The only way we win against these violent criminals is if we work together, from the local levels to the state levels to the federal government, that we partner with one another to fight this crime.”

Other issues the legislature will address include creating stronger punishment for kids who use weapons and crack down on illegal gun sales.

Parson will live-stream another briefing with an update on this issue this coming Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.

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