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Cole Co. Cracks Down on Guns

Tuesday afternoon, the Cole County Sheriff’s Department announced a new program offering rewards for information about convicts possessing firearms. It is the second initiative local cops have put in place to crack down on recent violence. Back in November, Columbia police launched a so called “ceasefire initiative.” The goal of that program: to reduce the number of shootings around town by targeting a list of about 100 individuals. Ten shootings later, Police Spokesperson Latisha Stroer had no information on any new arrests. This new initiative in Cole County, however, appears to make arrests by getting residents involved. Law enforcement officials hope that by offering a financial reward, people will help get criminals and guns off Cole County streets. Sheriff Greg White, along with deputies, state troopers, and city police officers, all armed with weapons, announced the plan to get guns out of the wrong hands. Part of that falls back on the public being willing to provide information, which police say is not always easy. “I think sometimes, the extra incentive is what’s needed,” Jefferson City Police Captain Doug Shoemaker said, “sometimes it comes down to the money.” You can get that money with information that helps officers get guns off of any school grounds in the county, or you can cash in with information that helps officers arrest, and prosecutors subsequently file charges against the people they say cannot legally have firearms. Law enforcement say, all too often the criminals they bring in have been to jail before, and a lot of times, they are picked up for crimes that involve firearms. “Those people need to be able to be taken off the streets before they shoot somebody, and we hope this program will allow for that,” Cole County Sheriff Greg White said. Law enforcement officers hope residents with safety concerns, plus the incentive of money, will help lead to more arrests and fewer guns on the streets. “The fact is we’re still dependent on people telling what they saw and what they know, and honestly it’s been pretty effective in this county,” Sheriff White said. Cops say the program’s rewards for getting guns off school grounds and out of felons’ hands can run as much as 150 dollars. Law enforcement are not eligible for the reward, and neither are any felons wishing to turn themselves in. The program started Tuesday, and all you have to do to participate is notify any law enforcement agency in Cole County. 10,000 dollars from the Cole County Commission fund the program, which will expire when that money runs out.

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