Addressing Violent Crime – State Senator Dan Hegeman

The Missouri Legislature has returned to Jefferson City, after the governor called us back for an extra session to look at ways to curb violent crime in our state. Sadly, we have seen increases in crime rates in parts of Missouri, particularly in our three largest cities.

Crafting legislation at the state level means taking into account all of the differences in our state, and this instance is a good example. What may work for St. Louis or Kansas City may not fit so well in smaller towns, which is just about all we have in northwest Missouri. So, lawmakers’ task will be to assess the situations that currently exist not only in those cities where violent crime is the worst, but also make sure whatever legislation comes from our work also helps to reduce crime in our state’s rural communities.

The extraordinary session started on July 27, at which point Senate Bill 1 was introduced. This measure contains numerous reforms, including changes to residency requirements for police officers and other public safety officials in St. Louis, juvenile certification for certain crimes, admittance of hearsay evidence in court, reforms to the state’s child endangerment statues, creation of a witness protection fund and increase penalties for the unlawful transfer of weapons. Again, I believe the goal here is to pinpoint specific areas where legislation could help, rather than create a blanket approach that may do more harm than good in some parts of our state.

Senate Bill 1 was heard in a Missouri Senate committee on July 28. The committee expects to give its approval to the proposal this week, which means the entire Senate can then discuss the bill on the floor of the Missouri Senate, with the goal of sending it to the Missouri House of Representatives before the end of the week.

As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is dan.hegeman@senate.mo.gov and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.