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Gov. Parson, Missouri Chamber introduce anti-crime plan earmarking more money for police, parolees

Pushing MO legislature to act
Governor Parson
Posted at 12:04 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-28 13:04:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — If you're researching the top most dangerous cities in America, you'll likely see Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis on these lists.

According to a Missouri Chamber of Commerce poll, CEOs say crime is hurting the state's economy and they should get involved in the solution.

"Safer Missouri Stronger Missouri will confront this head-on," Missouri Chamber of Commerce president Dan Mehan said during an announcement Monday in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Missouri Chamber, Gov. Mike Parson, and leaders in the corrections and public safety systems weighed in on the 'Safer Missouri Stronger Missouri' report. It's a "business-led" approach listing eight recommendations, several of which point to beefing up police staffing and resources as the solution. Some recommendations focus on improving mental health care and support for people on parole and probation.

1. Deploy evidence-based and hot spot approaches to crime reduction
2. Increase and protect tools to support policing
3. Address substance misuse and mental health
4. Reduce recidivism among those on probation or parole
5. Improve training and employment opportunities for incarcerated individuals
6. Increase public safety staffing
7. Improve public perception of law enforcement
8. Increase prosecutorial consistency and transparency

"People coming out of incarceration, that's just one part of the solution," Mehan said. "And if you look at the overall environment that, too often, Missouri is perceived in, you've got to be attractive to get people in here, to get investment in here."

Mehan said companies have approached the Chamber with concerns, so that's why they added their voice in the discussion on reducing crime.

The Chamber recognized checking off all the recommendations quickly is a tall order. Mehan said they're pushing for the state legislature to pass bills that would address their recommendations.

Parson said when it comes to violent crime, the state is "not getting it done."

The governor was also in Kansas City on Monday to sign off on a bill that would increase police funding, which voters will later decide on in November.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R - Parkville) sponsored that bill.

On Monday he said, "you have to have brave men and women who wear a uniform and go out and stop bad people from doing bad things."

Parson has always made clear his approach to crime.

"In the end, you have to have enough law enforcement officers on the street to fight crime," Parson said.

Kansas City's approved 2022-2023 budget includes nearly $269 million for the police department.

In 2015 to 2016, the police's budget was nearly $229 million. It has gone up every year since, except for 2021-2022.

Parson also said it'll take a combination of all the recommendations to make their plan viable.

"We've got to expand the base of mental health," Parson said. "You've got to have more facilities for people to go to and you've got to take services to people who need it."

Julie Kempker, the state's director of probation and parole, said 60,000 people are on parole or probation in Missouri.

"Corrections can't do this alone," Kempker said.

The state director of public safety, Sandy Karsten, mentioned scholarships for police departments for future officers and funding for training and technology.

None of the Chamber's recommendations mention gun control.

The entire report can be read online.