(PLATTE CITY. Mo.) A violent crime bill signed into law by Missouri Governor Mike Parson Monday.
Prosecutors and law enforcement gathered in Platte County to show their support and explained how it will help them do their jobs better.
The scratch of a pen and a bill that's been sitting on the governor's desk for weeks will be law in Missouri.
It answers a question given to prosecutors and law enforcement everyday.
“The question that I get more than any other question is ‘what are we doing about violent crime, what are we doing about gun-related violence in the community?’” Buchanan County Prosecutor Ron Holliday said.
Senate bill 600 stiffens penalties for repeat violent offenders, crimes involving guns, and gang-related crime.
“That's what this is about is being able to protect our citizens to keep violent criminals off the street,” Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett said.
A serious sentence, for serious crimes.
“This gives us the tools to ensure that truly dangerous violent criminals, the worst of the worst, will not merely receive a slap on the wrist when they prey on their victims,” Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said.
The bill was sponsored by Parkville republican senator Tony Luetkemeyer.
“So what Senate Bill 600 does at its core is ends the catch and release practice that allows violent felons to re-offend,” Luetkemeyer said.
Just before the governor committed his signature, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and city officials expressed their support for the bill at a news conference in Platte County.
“If you’re the mayor of a city where a 4-year-old is shot in their sleep, if you’re the mayor of a city where two officers are shot in one day, if you’re the mayor of a city where everyone everyday is saying ‘what can we do to make some level of difference?’” Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas said. “You can’t turn a blind eye to how important it is that we make sure that the prosecutors, the police officers have the tools that they need.”
Saying the bill gives them better tools to combat guns and gangs.
“Anything that we can do that gives law enforcement and prosecutors the tools they need to keep our communities safe and protect our victims is a win for all of us,” Puett said.
However, not everyone supports it. Last month at least 13 groups wrote a letter to the governor asking him to veto it, writing the bill does nothing to address underlying issues that lead to violent crime. Instead they say it doubles down on failed strategies of past decades.
Luetkemeyer says prevention and rehabilitation have been the focus of legislative sessions in the past. Now it’s time to focus on the individuals that have been given too many chances.
“We should be putting them in prison so they can't re-offend and hurt more people,” Luetkemeyer said.
In the press conference Monday, Parson also indicated he wants a special session to focus on violent crime in the state.