The Missouri legislature is asking the governor to appoint a special attorney
ST. LOUIS — A growing nationwide concern that crimes are going unpunished in the city of St. Louis has led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to urge the Missouri governor to appoint a special attorney for St. Louis.
According to a report by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, suspects in 4,280 misdemeanor and felony counts from 2020 have been released and are awaiting a district attorney’s decision on whether to file criminal charges.
The public prosecutor disputes the number, but initially did not name a specific number. Staffers provided an update later Wednesday night and said the number of cases did not exceed 3,800 and included cases where the alleged perpetrators were not considered violent or dangerous, the arresting officer no longer worked for the St .Louis worked, and cases of lack of evidence (fees are charged in such cases in less than 20% of cases).
However, Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature now view a lack of law enforcement as a public health issue in St. Louis. Under House Bill 301, sponsored by Republican Congressman Lane Roberts, former Joplin police chief and Missouri director of public safety, the governor was able to rule that the backlog of criminal cases was “a threat to public safety and health” and ” Appointment of a special prosecutor for a term of five years” to prosecute murder (first and second degree), assault (first and second degree) and robbery (first and second degree).
“The city (of St. Louis) is at a tipping point,” said Democratic Rep. Donna Baringer of St. Louis. “Typically 80% of your crimes are committed by 5% of the population. In the city of St. Louis, we’re not putting that 5% behind bars. So they come right back out and can commit more crimes.”
A bipartisan group of lawmakers met with St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner via conference call.
“One of the big things the St. Louis DA mentioned was that she needed help,” said Republican Rep. Ron Copeland of Salem, Missouri. “That’s one of the things the bill is trying to offer is help when it needs help.”
“People are dying,” Roberts said.
He pointed out that the city of St. Louis has had more than 1,000 murder cases with too few prosecutions in the past five years.
New St. Louis Police Chief Robert Tracy was at the Capitol on Wednesday. He did not comment on the bill, telling lawmakers he has yet to meet with Gardner but would sit down with her soon.
“I think it’s only fair that I sit down with her to at least have a conversation before I comment on what’s happening,” Tracy said. “What she wants or doesn’t want to do.”
Gardner did not respond to FOX 2’s interview request. The cases pending action do not involve violent crimes, according to staff.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department denies this.
The House Crime and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on HB 301 Thursday morning. Only the city of St. Louis is currently mentioned, but it is expected to be amended to include all counties struggling with a criminal case backlog.
https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/missouri-lawmakers-call-for-governor-to-appoint-special-prosecutor/ The Missouri legislature is asking the governor to appoint a special attorney