Disunity among local sheriffs and probation and parole leaders

A man who was serving a life sentence in a 1994 murder-for-hire plot in Tennessee is out of prison. / (MGN)
A man who was serving a life sentence in a 1994 murder-for-hire plot in Tennessee is out of prison. / (MGN)(WVLT)
Published: Feb. 18, 2020 at 4:24 PM CST
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More frustration among Missouri sheriffs about a new system for people on Probation or Parole.

A meeting with those sheriffs and state officials got heated and ended when at least one sheriff walked out, and our cameras came in.

Many lawmen across the state say the system is broken. Multiple local sheriffs say it's dangerous and threatens the public's safety.

Probation and parole disagrees, and says the system is aimed at rehabilitation.

"People who are on probation and parole, leaving a probation and parole office high on methamphetamine-- tested positive for it and was allowed to leave!" exclaimed Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott.

Local sheriffs are fired up about the issue again, seven months after it was adopted.

"If you have someone testing positive for meth or any kind of drug and they walk back out onto the street immediately after they test positive and get in a car and drive away-- that is a public safety issue. And that is just one of a few of the examples that I can give you," said Sheriff Brad Cole of Christian County.

The Missouri Division of Probation and Parole says the new system is better tailored for rehabbing criminals.

"We can't say a blanket statement that everybody on probation or parole that gets two dirty urine tests is going to prison. I can't give a blanket analysis of what we would do in those circumstances. But what we're trying to do is look at these cases individually, and depending on what the risk factors are, depending on what the circumstances are of this case, I can't say there is a blanket decision to return people to prison based on a number of anything," said Julie Kempker, the director of probation and parole. She has been on a statewide tour to try to get many upset sheriffs on the same page as her division.

"The blame is being placed on the wrong people," said Kempker. We asked who should the blame be placed on.

"It's not for me to determine, not for me to decide. As the director of probation and parole, my job is to make sure P&P staff are supervising their clients to the best of their ability with the resources that we have," Kempker said.

"You can ask the other sheriffs who were in attendance, they feel the same way, it's ridiculous that we are letting people go and knowingly doing it," Arnott said.

"You have to have consequences. You can't come to your P&P meeting and test positive for meth two times in a row and nothing be done!" said Sheriff Cole.

Another thing the sheriffs are upset about is that our KY3 cameras aren't being allowed inside these meetings, as we are trying to be the eyes and ears of the tax-paying public.

"Often times when the media is here, I think there is a lot of grandstanding and that's not what I wanted," said Kempker.

When we tried to come in, the meeting was ended immediately. The sheriffs are urging transparency.

KY3 has asked the governor to weigh in, since he is from this area, and a former sheriff. He has agreed to an interview on Saturday. We will have his take on the situation next week.

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