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Missouri governor proposes funding for witness protection to address violent crime

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

After reminding the crowd of his staunch support for the second amendment, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said gun violence is an issue that cannot wait.

"We all have to understand the very real issue of violent crime affecting our neighborhoods and the potential consequence of doing nothing," Parson said in his second State of the State speech on Wednesday.

In 2019, shootings claimed the lived of 12 people in Columbia.

In his proposed budget, Parson included $1 million for a witness protection fund. The program would fund law enforcement programs that assist victims and witnesses of violent crime.

In the months prior to the speech, Parson met with the mayors and police chiefs of Missouri four largest cities: St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia.

The priorities that arose from those discussions, Parson said in his speech, are witness protection, providing mental health resources, and "strengthening our laws to target violent criminals."

House Democrats immediately delivered a sharp rebuttal to Parson's speech afterward.

Minority Leader Rep. Crystal Quade, of Springfield, said that she met with the same group of mayors and police chiefs on the issue of gun violence. She said Parson's speech did not capture all of the ideas brought by those cities' leadership.

"They have a slew of other requests that they're asking for that the governor has not hit on at all," Quade said.

“Maybe (Parson is) halfway listening. But again, when the experts are asking for these things to better their cities and the police chiefs are asking for specific legislation to be passed— we should be listening to them.”

Columbia Mayor Brian Treece said Parson's mention of witness protection was "responsive" to their requests.

"Witness protection was the first plank of the mayor's platform when it comes to addressing violent crime," Treece told ABC 17 News.

"This is the first full week of the legislative session, we still have a long ways to go. What the governor did do is lay out a vision of working together," Treece said.

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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.

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