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City leaders respond to recent rash of shootings

Mayor, police, and prosecutors all agree they have to work together to fight crime.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2019 10:46 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.)  From north St. Joseph to Southside to midtown, there's been no part of the city that has been spared from recent gun violence. On Wednesday, city leaders, police and prosecutors agreed, saying it has to be a team effort to solve crimes and put criminals in jail.

Since the start of the year just more than a week ago St. Joseph has already seen eight separate shootings in the city.

For Mayor Bill McMurray, who made fighting crime a major part of his campaign when he was elected last year, it's a troubling statistic.

"It didn't used to happen in St. Joe," McMurray said. "It didn't happen here when I grew up but we live in a different world today."

The mayor's new blue ribbon crime commission is still in its early phases of operation, but there are hopes the group can come up with some answers.

"We had the aerial sting operations, several of those have happened," he said. "That's been a cooperation of law enforcement agencies. I'm very pleased with the cooperation of our drug strike force and our street crimes unit. They work together and even share an office. They are attacking the problem."

Meanwhile, St. Joseph police repeatedly are being called out to more shootings. They say the crime scenes most often involve drugs or domestic disturbances where the assailants and the victims are already acquainted

"There are more guns out there than ever before," said Chief Chris Connally. "We have a lot of people that carry concealed and have no training and no training requirement. What we're finding is that in some cases, people are having conflicts and bringing guns into their conflicts earlier. It's not an effective way. Bringing guns in usually leads to bad things."

One tool police want to take advantage of more is security cameras installed in and around St. Joseph homes. Connally said police would like to know where these cameras are so they can be accessed if needed.

"We keep a map so that when we have something occurs in that neighborhood we can backtrack and know who to contact to see if we can look at their video and see if they have something that can be helpful," he said.

At the Buchanan County Courthouse, new prosecuting attorney Ron Holliday says he's monitoring the violence and ready to punish those responsible.

"We will take a zero approach to any crime involving gun violence," Holliday said. "That's very important to citizens in the community."

Both police and prosecutors agree that it will take a community effort to battle this latest crime wave.

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