Missouri leaders work together to reduce violent crime
Governor Parson met with the mayors of St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia and Springfield Friday to discuss strategies to make cities throughout the state safe from violent crime.
"We're trying to find solutions to a problem in our state none of us are very proud of," said Gov. Mike Parson.
The leaders said the historic meeting is the only way to start fighting back against violent crime in Missouri.
"I think we all decided frankly that we were fed up and we were going to do something different and we were going to make sure we were engaging with each other," said Quinton Lucas, the mayor of Kansas City.
Our cameras weren't allowed in the meeting, but we do know the leaders came up with a set of priorities they want to address within the next few months.
"There is a common element," said Springfield Mayor Ken McClure. "We have an issue with gun violence [and] we have an issue with drug abuse. All of that plays together."
According to a news release, all four mayors identified gun violence as a top concern. The release said the group wants to clarify laws and ordinances to keep guns away from children, except for hunting purposes. It also said it wants to keep guns out of the hands of violent offenders.
"We talked about gun control in there [and] I think the mayors are concerned about the things they have to deal with internally with their cities, I think we're well aware of that," said Gov. Parson. "I think this year you will hear discussion about that with the legislative process, but I also want to be realistic of what we can get done [now]."
One of the other issues stressed was working to get more funding for mental health and substance abuse. Gov.Parson said the leaders also want to focus on finding and keeping more police in their forces.
"Throughout the state of Missouri its difficult to fill those positions right now," he said.
According to the news release, the group also plans to prosecute offenders faster, while making witnesses feel safe about speaking up.
"The reality of it is in some of these neighborhoods and some of the areas where this happens people don't want to come forward because they're afraid," said Gov. Parson. "We have to figure out how you make them safe before we do anything and those kind of things are all common interests that we all have."
Gov. Parson said Friday's meeting was all about coming up with strategies the leaders could realistically start utilizing as soon as possible.
The leaders plan to continue working together as a team. There next meeting has not yet been scheduled.
to view more information about the violent crime prevention meeting.