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Missouri Governor Wants A Quick Special Session On Violent Crime

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson met with city leaders in Kansas City on Monday.
Jodi Fortino
KCUR 89.3
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (center) holding a press conference with city leaders Monday in Kansas City.

Republican Gov. Mike Parson wants to wait until the regular session next year to take up police reform.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson met with city leaders in Kansas City on Monday to discuss the General Assembly’s upcoming special session on violent crime.

Kansas City has seen a surge in violent crime this year, reaching 105 homicides
a 35% increase over the same time last year. Meanwhile, there have been 135 homicides in St. Louis.

“When a person can't walk down the streets safely and they have to worry every time they walk out the door that somebody's going to shoot and kill him, there's lots of problems mixed in with that, that we have to address,” said Parson.

At next week’s legislative meeting, he says he plans to propose laws to better protect and empower witnesses, create stronger punishments for child endangerment when a child uses a weapon, and crack down on illegal gun sales.

He also wants to loosen the residency requirement for St. Louis police officers, allowing them to live up to an hour outside of city limits.

Parson, a Republican, says he has received criticism from some legislators for the reforms he has decided to focus on.

“Some people would want more, some would want less, but at the end of the day, what are the things I feel like we could give the people the tools they need to go after violent criminals, ” said Parson.

Parson says the special session needs to be done as quickly as possible to better combat the state’s growing crime rate and other issues, such as police reform, can be addressed at a later legislative session.

Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith said he was grateful to see state officials taking swift action on the issue.

“We had another homicide while we waited to have this meeting today. We know we have to take some action and there's a sense of urgency right now. And I hope that we, as a state in Missouri, can capitalize on that,” said Smith.

Parson says the 200 federal agents dispatched to Kansas City through Operation Legend will also help with investigating unsolved homicides in the area. The project is named after 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed last month.

“I'm fine with whatever help I can get to protect a child's life. Anytime we can get that here, I think, at the end of the day, that's the most important thing we could think of,” said Parson.

Officers under Operation LeGend made their first arrest Monday of Monty W. Ray, 20, who was charged with being an unlawful drug user in possession of firearms in U.S. District Court in Kansas City.

The special session will begin next Monday on July 27. The proposed bills will be heard in committee before heading to the Missouri House and Senate floors.

More than ever, education lies at the intersection of equity, housing, funding, and other diverse issues facing Kansas City’s students, families and teachers. As KCUR’s education reporter, I’ll break down the policies driving these issues in schools and report what’s happening in our region's classrooms. You can reach me at jodifortino@kcur.org.
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